The common wombat is the largest burrowing herbivorous mammal, and one of Australia's most endearing native animals. Unfortunately, in some areas of Tasmania, populations have been reduced by up to 90% by sarcoptic mange (skin mites). Affected wombats suffer considerably. Long-term success for treatment in the wild is currently low because the mite lives in burrows and on other animals. The problem needs to be managed long term, at a population level, through surveys and practical actions.
In some areas of Tasmania, wombat populations have fallen by up to 90% due to sarcoptic mange, a mite that leads to skin lesions, blindness and death. Little monitoring has been undertaken and the prevalence of mange at a population scale is poorly documented. This means there is not enough research to guide conservation management for the species.
We'll carry out wombat surveys across Tasmania, to gain a better understanding at a population level. Volunteers will also collect samples of scats (droppings) for analysis to determine if DNA has any impact on wombats' susceptibility to mange. While we're out monitoring, researchers are trialing a new treatment to provide effective treatment for up to 3 months with a single dose. When the trials are complete, we'll be getting teams of volunteers out to help treat mange-affected wombats.
To date, much of the focus on mange management has been at an individual level - this project will allow managers to develop long-term management actions at a population scale. We're partnering with the University of Tasmania and Tasmania's Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and the Environment for this project, and we will be involving our dedicated and generous teams of community volunteers in our activities.