HELLO THERE CUTIE

Balonne Beacon - - FRONT PAGE - Jorja McDon­nell jorja.mcdon­nell@west­ern­starnews.com

AN IM­POR­TANT member of the St Ge­orge com­mu­nity has fi­nally made a pub­lic ap­pear­ance af­ter spend­ing a year in its mother’s pouch.

The north­ern hairy-nosed wom­bat joey, which is more of a tod­dler than a new­born, has been cap­tured on cam­era scur­ry­ing around the bur­row.

It is es­ti­mated the joey’s birth date was about this time last year.

Wom­bats spend a long time in the pouch be­fore tak­ing to the world.

En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Leeanne Enoch said this new ad­di­tion to the Richard Un­der­wood Na­ture Re­serve was a cause for cel­e­bra­tion be­cause the north­ern hairy-nosed wom­bat was so rare.

“The only known colonies are here in Queens­land,” she said.

“Each birth in­creases the chances of sur­vival of this unique threat­ened species.

“In 2009, ex­perts be­lieved there were only 138 of this species left in the wild, and since then we have seen the total Queens­land pop­u­la­tion in­crease to about 250, which is won­der­ful.”

St Ge­orge is one of only two places th­ese wom­bats call home.

The only other known lo­ca­tion of the elusive mam­mals is in Ep­ping For­est Na­tional Park, near Cler­mont.

Both re­serves have been es­tab­lished to sup­port each other in species preser­va­tion, and the de­part­ment is in the process of find­ing a third colony lo­ca­tion.

De­part­ment of En­vi­ron­ment and Sci­ence di­rec­tor gen­eral Jamie Mer­rick hinted at the pos­si­bly of a third colony be­ing es­tab­lished nearby.

“The suc­cess of the breed­ing pro­gram in St Ge­orge has prompted us to set up a third colony,” he said.

“The south­west pro­vides the best wom­bat habi­tat be­cause of the sandy soil and eu­ca­lypt forests.”

❝ The only known colonies are here in Queens­land — Leeanne Enoch

PHOTO: DEPT OF EN­VI­RON­MENT AND SCI­ENCE

HELLO THERE: This young north­ern hairy-nosed wom­bat was cap­tured on a night-vi­sion cam­era at Richard Un­der­wood Na­ture Re­serve near St Ge­orge last week.

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