Species name: common wombat
Nominated by: Wildlife Land Trust
IUCN Red List classification: Least Concern
What is so special about your species?
Bare-nosed wombats bring out the best in people. There are thousands of Australians so inspired by the species they dedicate their lives to caring for injured and orphaned wombats, waking at all hours to feed and comfort them, helping them recover in the wild by preparing and placing burrow flaps to treat mange, and protecting their habitats.
They have an incredibly endearing no-nonsense nature – if a wombat has somewhere to go nobody is going to stop it getting there, especially if there’s a joey on board! They are playful, loving, and as tough as nails. Characteristics we would like to think are quintessentially Australian!
What are the threats to this species in the wild?
While the bare-nosed wombat is relatively abundant, they have been treated terribly in Australia in recent times and their wellbeing remains under serious threat. Wombats were classified as vermin in 1906, there was a bounty put on their heads in 1925, and they continue to suffer from shootings, rampant habitat clearance, a disturbing amount of road strikes (occasionally intentional, including an instance where 11 wombats, some carrying joeys, were mown down in a camping ground in 2015), and the highly distressing disease mange.
Mange is a horrific skin infection caused by a parasitic mite that results in aggressive itching, hair loss, skin crusting, and open wounds. Of the native Australian mammal species known to be affected, wombats are the most impacted, with mange limiting wombats’ ability to forage and drink, resulting in weight loss and compromised immune systems which help the infection on. If left untreated, scabbing gets so bad that wombats can become deaf and blind, almost inevitably leading to a painful death.
What can people do to help your species?
Mange can be treated through medication placed in cleverly designed burrow flaps, and hundreds of wildlife carers around Australia spend their time and money erecting them to help reduce the suffering of this species they adore so much. But the task is too big for carers alone and support is desperately needed.