30 years research + 50 years protection = 300+ wombats

Issued: 7 Sep 2021

Threatened Species Day 2021 is a momentous occasion, highlighted by significant milestones and the major achievement of saving the northern hairy-nosed wombat from the brink of extinction.

The Department of Environment and Science (DES) would like to acknowledge the 50th anniversary of Epping Forest National Park (Scientific), which was gazetted on October 7, 1971.

DES also pays tribute to Dr Alan Horsup and thanks him on his 30 years of research into the northern hairy-nosed wombat and his contribution to their recovery.

Executive Director Wildlife and Threatened Species Kirstin Kenyon said in 1971, the Queensland Government acquired the Epping Forest National Park (Scientific) from neighbouring cattle stations.

“The acquisition of the Epping Forest National Park (Scientific) was to protect the remaining northern hairy-nosed wombat population and conserve its habitat,” Ms Kenyon said.

“Located in the Brigalow Belt North biogeographical region near Clermont, the park was home to the last remaining population of the northern hairy-nosed wombat.

“Surveys in the early eighties estimated there were just 35 wombats remaining in the park, and urgent action was taken to protect them.

“With the support of Glencore, The Wombat Foundation, landowners and volunteers, I’m thrilled that we now have an estimated 315 wombats in the park.

“I’d like to thank Glencore, who have provided more than $4 million in sponsorship over the past ten years, and the Wombat Foundation for their dedication to this species.

“I’d also like to thank the volunteers for their passion and the countless hours they spend helping my department care for country.”

Ms Kenyon said Dr Alan Horsup has spent countless hours in the national park monitoring and caring for the wombats.

“Dr Horsup first started at Epping Forest National Park (Scientific) in 1991, when there was an estimated 65 wombats left,” she said.

“He joined the department specifically to save the species and has dedicated 30 years of his life to the northern hairy-nosed wombat.

“Dr Horsup has been a critical factor in helping to boost their population, and I thank him for his service to the department and to the northern hairy-nosed wombat.”

Dr Horsup said it has been an incredible privilege to work with dedicated partners and be a part of the threatened species program.

“I never get tired of working with these quirky animals and I’m always thrilled when I see a new joey has been born,” Dr Horsup said.

“It has been 30-years of hard work and the Epping State Forest is like a second home, and I’m proud of everything the department and our partners have done to protect the species.”

Ms Kenyon said a second population of the wombats was successfully established at Richard Underwood Nature Refuge to minimise the risk of extinction

“This recovery is one of the great back-from-the-brink stories but more is needed to be done to expand the program and reintroduce the species into new locations,” she said.

“On National Threatened Species Day, we also recognise that there are 1020 species listed as threatened in Queensland, and there are hundreds of people and organisations that help us to avoid the extinction of these precious species.

“To help care for our threatened species, the Queensland Government is providing $1.5 million annually for the SEQ Wildlife Hospital network.

“In 2021-22, we have committed an additional $3.723 million over four years and $930,000 annually for koala conservation in the south-east.”

The Queensland status for the northern hairy-nosed wombat recently changed from Endangered to Critically Endangered so the categories are aligned with international standards. This does not reflect the Queensland Government’s successful conservation efforts.

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