The Hall State School’s Samantha Fraser with Haley the southern hairy-nosed wombat.
The Hall State School’s Samantha Fraser with Haley the southern hairy-nosed wombat. File

Hairy-nose wombat headed for extinction scrap heap

SOUTHERN hairy-nosed wombat Lolly is safe and cared for, but according to new research, her endangered cousins might not be worth saving.

Lolly is one of many animals cared for by Project Kial, which was one of two organisations to receive a funding boost from The Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland yesterday.

The Duck Pond Environmental Reserve at Rockhampton also received funding to help replant native vegetation that was washed away in the floods.

Rescued Lolly's mother is part of the hairy-nosed wombat conservation program at the Rockhampton Zoo, aimed at saving the endangered northern hairy-nosed wombat, but a new research tool suggests it might not be worth the effort.

The University of Adelaide and James Cook University researchers have developed a new tool to help conservationists understand how close species are to extinction.

Co-author Professor Corey Bradshaw told the ABC the tool was designed to help governments prioritise scarce funding for conservation.

Prof Bradshaw did not go quite so far as to say there were species Australia should not save.

“But if you take a strictly empirical view, things that are well below in numbering in the hundreds ... in some cases it is probably not worthwhile putting a lot of effort because there's just no chance,” Prof Bradshaw said.

Managing director of Australian Reproductive Technology Simon Walton was heavily involved in establishing the hairy-nosed wombat conservation program at the Rockhampton Zoo, and continues to work with the species.

“They are worth saving and it's absolutely possible to do it,” Mr Walton said.

The program works with the southern hairy-nosed wombats, which are less endangered than the northern hairy-nosed wombats and works to find ways to save both species.

“Some of the work we did at the Rocky Zoo turned out some very interesting and usable information for developing projects for assisted reproductive programs,” Mr Walton said.

With 138 northern hairy-nosed wombats left, Mr Walton said saving them was certainly possible, providing adequate funding was given to the issue by government.

“I think the Pommies brought about 13 rabbits to Australia and I think there were 11 possums sent to New Zealand and look at the population they have survived at.”



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