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Fencing protects rare wombat joey

Celebrating the birth of a rare northern hairy-nosed wombat joey at a Qld nature refuge established to help save the species.

The baby wombat was born at the Richard Underwood Nature Refuge, near St George, which was established about ten years ago to protect the species and promote breeding.

“This little creature has only just recently emerged from the pouch and is absolutely gorgeous,” Queensland Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said.

“The birth of this joey – whose gender hasn’t been discovered yet – is a real cause for celebration.

“The northern hairy-nosed wombat is one of the world’s rarest mammals, and the only known colonies are here in Queensland.

“Each birth increases the chances of survival of this unique threatened species.”

Ms Enoch said when Richard Underwood Nature Refuge was established, there were very few northern hairy-nosed wombats in the world.

“That is why a decision was made to establish a second population at the refuge,” the Minister said.

“In 2009, experts believed there were only 138 of these species left in the wild, and since then we have seen the total Queensland population increase to about 250, which is wonderful.

“At the Refuge, this latest addition brings the number of northern hairy-nosed wombats at the refuge to twelve.”

Ms Enoch said the only other colony of this species was also in Queensland, at Epping Forest National Park near Clermont in Central Queensland.

“The small, but protected population at the Richard Underwood Nature Refuge helps assure the species’ survival should any event impact on the numbers of northern hairy-nosed wombats at Epping Forest National Park,” she said.

“The refuge is predator-proof, with fencing, water stations and wildlife monitoring equipment all on hand to protect and monitor these enigmatic native animals.”

The Queensland Government, in partnership with landowners Ed and Gabriele Underwood, and northern hairy-nosed wombat re-introduction program sponsor Glencore, established the second northern hairy-nosed wombat colony in 2009.

“The Underwood family’s generosity in allowing part of their property to be used as a nature refuge has played a key role in the recovery of this wombat species,” Ms Enoch said.

“We recognise there is also a need for a third breeding colony to further protect these precious species.

“The Qld Department of Environment and Science’s threatened species experts are currently conducting habitat modelling and will work with the Wombat Foundation to identify suitable locations in Queensland.”

Ms Enoch said the wombat joey that had emerged from its mother’s pouch is believed to have been born around September 2017.

This story was first published in The Fence magazine.

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