ENVIRONMENTAL scientists are celebrating the birth of a rare northern hairy-nosed wombat in Queensland – one of the rarest creatures in the world.
The baby wombat was born at the Richard Underwood Nature Refuge, near St George, which was established about ten years ago in an effort to ensure the survival of the species.
It’s believed the endangered nocturnal marsupial was born in September last year and has spent the last 10 months growing in his mother’s puch.
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Hidden cameras caught the moment the joey emerged from his mother’s burrow for the first time.
“This little creature has only just recently emerged from the pouch and is absolutely gorgeous,” 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 first established, there were very few northern hairy-nosed wombats in the world.
The animal was thought to be extinct until the 1930s when a small population of about 30 was discovered in central Queensland.
“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.”
Ms Enoch said there was now a need for a third breeding colony to further protect the prescious species.
“The 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,” she said.