Dr Alan Horsup, Senior Conservation Officer, Threatened Species Operations

Meet Alan, he has dedicated 30 years of his life to protect the Hairy-nosed wombat!

How did you begin your career with QPWS?

I began working in the Rockhampton QPWS office as a Wildlife Manager in 1991. My primary role was to work on threatened species, such as the northern hairy-nosed wombat and bridled nail-tail wallaby. But that was in the days before wildlife rangers existed, so I also looked after magpie, crocodile, and snake problems.

Where are you now?

I’m still based in Rockhampton as a Threatened Species Officer. My primary role is to oversee the recovery of the last natural population of the critically endangered northern hairy-nosed wombat at Epping Forest National Park (Scientific) in central Queensland. The big push now is to prepare for the establishment of another colony by translocation in the next 2-3 years. I also work on a few threatened rock-wallaby species.

Image of Dr Horsup monitoring wombat activity at Epping Forest National Park.Open larger image

Dr Horsup monitors wombat activity at Epping Forest National Park.

Tell us a little about your journey as a Senior Conservation Officer

I’ve been fortunate to contribute to the recovery of the northern hairy-nosed wombat population at Epping Forest National Park from about 60 animals in the early 1990s to over 300 now in two populations. When numbers were low, there was a long drought, little breeding and two males to every female. It was an extremely worrying time, but a combination of excellent teamwork and good management decisions have brought the species back from the brink.

Image of Dr Horsup measuring a Northern hairy-nosed wombat.Open larger image

Dr Horsup measures a Northern hairy-nosed wombat.

Image of Dr Horsup photographed with a Northern hairy-nosed wombat in Epping Forest National Park.Open larger image

Dr Horsup photographed with a Northern hairy-nosed wombat in Epping Forest National Park.

Photo credit: © John Augusteyn

What is one highlight of your career as a conservation officer?

A major career highlight was establishing a second population of northern hairy-nosed wombats at Richard Underwood Nature Refuge, near St George in southern Queensland. We moved 14 wombats there from Epping Forest National Park in 2009-10. It was amazing to finally see northern hairy-nosed wombat footprints in a part of Queensland they had disappeared from 100 years earlier.

Tell us why you believe conservation is so important and what people can do to help or make a difference?

Humans are the dominant species on earth, but we have a responsibility to conserve our planet and the unique wildlife that depends on it. DES staff are lucky in that we can do more than just thinking globally and acting locally. We can make a significant difference in our roles as protectors of the environment.

What is your favourite animal and why?

I’d be in trouble if I didn’t say wombats were my favourite animals. They are very cute, but it’s their resilience that I admire. The northern hairy-nosed wombat is a unique species that lives in the hot, dry outback of tropical Queensland and survives on a low nutrient dry grass diet for much of the year. To do so, they create massive, air-conditioned burrows, where they conserve energy and water and only venture above ground when ambient conditions are just right.

  • Back from the Brink documentary series by Natura Pacific. This episode was a collaboration with Queensland Government, Glencore and the Wombat Foundation and focuses on the endangered Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat,...

    Back from the Brink documentary series by Natura Pacific. This episode was a collaboration with Queensland Government, Glencore and the Wombat Foundation and focuses on the endangered Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat, what is happening to them and how we can help save them from extinction.