Species: Northern hairy-nosed wombat (Lasiorhinus krefftii)
Status: Critically Endangered (CR)
Interesting Fact: The northern hairy-nosed wombat has a backwards-facing pouch, ensuring that the pouch does not fill up with soil when the animal is digging.
The northern hairy-nosed wombat is a large, heavily built marsupial with strong claws, which it uses for digging complex burrow systems. The largest of the three wombat species, the northern hairy-nosed wombat is also the largest known herbivorous burrowing mammal. It spends the day sheltering inside its burrow, emerging at night to feed on grasses, and its very low water requirements help it to survive in its hot, dry environment.
One of the world’s rarest mammals, the northern hairy-nosed wombat has declined due to a combination of drought, competition for food with cattle and sheep, habitat loss due to invasive grasses, and predation by dingoes. The Epping Forest National Park in central Queensland, Australia, was created to protect the last remaining population of this species, and cattle and dingoes have been excluded from the area. Various conservation efforts are underway to try and save the northern hairy-nosed wombat, and a second population has now been established in southern Queensland. Although this rare marsupial is still perilously close to extinction, its population has risen from fewer than 40 individuals in the 1980s to around 200 by 2012.
Liz Shaw, ARKive Text Author