Northern Hairy-Nosed Wombat

By Mitchell Gertos


The Northern Hairy-Nosed Wombat (Lasiorhinus krefftii) is the largest of the three wombat species. The Northern Hairy-Nosed Wombat averages about 32kg and reaches more than one metre in length. They eat various types of native grasses and roots.
It is also one of the rarest land mammals in the world because they are critically endangered as listed internationally under the "International Union for the Conservation Of Nature (IUCN) Redlist of Threatened Species", which lists species at a global level. The abundance of the Northern Hairy-Nosed Wombat in the wild at the 2010 census was 163 individuals, an improvement of 50 individuals from the 2003 census.
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The habitat of the Northern Hairy-Nosed Wombat has decreased substantially over the past 100 years. They used to be extremely wide-spread through inland eastern Australia from Queensland, New South Wales and parts of Victoria but are now restricted to 3 squared kilometers in the Epping National Park in North Queensland. Their traditional habitat is a deep sandy soil, in which to dig their burrows, and a year-round supply of grass, which is their main food source. These areas usually are found in open eucalyptus tree areas.
There are conservation programs set up in zoos like Australia Zoo trying to help the Northern Hairy-Nosed Wombat regain a sustainable population in the wild, but enclosing these wombats is substantially different to their life in the wild. Although every effort is made to create the same habitat, man made burrows, introduced tree species and limited food supply are key differences. The zoo environment has them enclosed and keeps the zoo population restricted to that area, which means they need to be provided food rather than finding it themselves. The space to roam and forage for food is a difference.
A benefit of the zoo environment is wombats live much longer in captivity than in the wild. In the wild the wombats can live from 5 to 26 years old where in a zoo a wombat can live consistently up to 30 years old.


Behavioural Adaptations

Wombats are usually extremely solitary animals. They eat their own food and when their young is around 3 years old, they will go fend for themselves. The zoos often put several species together in the same enclosure, and the Wombats will have to share food with each other. This goes against their solitary instincts.
They also familiarize themselves with their habitat by dropping dung or urinate on their surroundings. The keepers at the zoo often clean the enclosures and replace leaves that have been urinated on. This just nullifies any reason of using this behavioural adaptation.

Human Impact

Human Impact has a massive effect on any ecosystem. For the Northern Hairy-Nosed Wombat, there have been a number or different impacts on their colony. Scientists have believed that when the Europeans arrived this drove the numbers of the Northern Hairy-Nosed Wombat down substantially, however this has not been proved. The main threats to the Wombat today are: low genetic diversity, diseases such as Toxoplasmosis, predation, competition, natural disasters (droughts, floods and wildfire), and loss of habitat.


Australia zoo have set up the "Wombat Conservation Project" which involves a husbandry program to Southern Hairy-Nosed Wombats as they are very similar. The Wombat Foundation also has a campaign to preserve the Northern Hairy-Nosed Wombat. They have a membership which pays for a newsletter every month and volunteers helping sustain the wombat numbers in the area. There are also 2 programs set up around the Epping Forest National Park.
The volunteers at the park put radio trackers on their wombats, set up fire management plans, maintain a predator-proof fence (installed in 2002) and control weeds. They also have set up a relocation program with the mining company Xstrata (now known as Glencore). They sponsored 'The Xstrata Reintroduction Program' to create a second colony and relocate to another part of Queensland, the Richard Underwood Nature refuge. The people at the refuge monitor the wombats, manage pests, predators, weeds and fire.


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Northern hairy-nosed wombat - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 2015. Northern hairy-nosed wombat - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
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Australia Zoo - Conservation Projects. 2015. Australia Zoo - Conservation Projects.
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