Wombats are short and round burrowing marsupials found only in Australia. They can weigh up to and over 40 kilograms and can reach a metre long yet barely stand 30 centimetres tall! There are three species of wombat: the Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat (Lasiorhinus krefttii) which are one of the world’s most critically endangered mammals with less than 300 animals left in the wild. The Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat (Lasiorhinus latifrons) and the Bare-nosed Wombat (Vombatus ursinus) both of which have little protective status despite population numbers being unknown.
We are based in South Australia and are lucky enough to have the latter two of the three species. Due to the lack of knowledge and advocacy plus the Founders fascination with the Southern Hairy-nosed Wombats, most of WAO’s efforts are dedicated to the species however sanctuary is offered to any wombat.
The Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat is South Australia’s faunal emblem, they live alomst exculsively in SA. They are incredibly smart and absolute in their ways. They never second guess anything. They are social beings, living in large family groups and inhabit some of the driest country in the world.
They used to span from the Western Coorong all the way across the Adelaide Hills, throughout Adelaide and across to Western Australia, but have been pushed into a very harsh environment, they live in the driest areas of the driest state in the driest continent on Earth. The rehabilitation of this animal is unlike any other. They are designed for the South Australian environment which is cold and wet in winter and bone dry with scorching temperatures throughout the rest of the year. They are designed for feast or famine. This means that this amazing animal can get to very low body weights – as low as 20% of their optimum weight and still recover. So remarkable!
Now there are no more than 7 known populations left. Bioligically, the wombats from the West Coast of SA and the Murraylands have been seperated for only 110 years. There is a rapid decline of the species. It is estimated the decline is as high as 70% over the past ten years. The wombat colonies are moving due to their habitat becoming unviable due to poor land management.
This has put them straight into the firing line with farmers. The practise of wombat culling both legal and illegal is rife. It is outdated. WAO believes that the current management practices of the wombats are no longer acceptable by the greater community. With a disinterest from the current Government who continuously has no interest to grow their knowledge or understanding of the species, the outlook is grim for the wombat and WAO has stepped into an activism role to promote the welfare and rights of an animal once ingored.
It is the underground warrens that can span over 200 metres long and up to 7 metres deep that has led the wombats down the path of being pests and subsequently are heavily persecuted by landholders and farmers. The wombats actually take up small pockets of agricultural land, cause less erosion than farming and cause less damage to infrastructure than livestock or the weather and germination rate is 70% higher where wombats are found. Reasons for their destruction are highly unsubstantiated and we intend to continue to prove this until wombats are no longer able to be killed under these pretences. There has been an estimated 70% decline in populations over the past decade and with the added threats of vehicles, diseases such as Sarcoptic mange and starvation due to poor land management there is no sign of their decline slowing.