Wombats are beautiful, intelligent creatures with incredible character and personality. They’re an Aussie icon whose digging is essential to soil health and our broader ecosystem.
They’re also under threat from a European parasite called Mange.
Wombats are the only creature in the world which dies from mange. The mange mite buries itself under the wombat’s skin, lays eggs and multiplies. Mange triggers an extreme itchiness and burning sensation which makes the wombat scratch non-stop, and their long claws cause open wounds. These wounds often become horribly infected, and the wombat becomes malnourished, severely dehydrated and eventually dies over a series of months.
The good news is, it can be treated.
Blue Mountains Wombat Conservation Group cares for wombats in the Blue Mountains region and surrounds. Volunteers work weekly to administer ‘Cydectin’ medication to both wombats directly and via a flap installed at the front of their burrows. The flap pours the medicine down their back as they pass through it. If the medication is administered once a week for fifteen weeks or more, the wombat(s) will be rid of the mange for long periods of time.
Without medication, wombats will die.
Foxes and other mammals spread mange when they enter burrows, and contrary to popular belief, wombats are actually highly social, so if one wombat gets mange, the whole population will get it. This is why the entire population is treated at each property we are called to.
We are a grassroots community group established after the recent devastating fires, and all of our ‘mange busters’ are volunteers! Our group is completely self-funded and runs on the ‘smell of an oily rag’ – if we could afford the oil.
Nine litres of the ‘Cydectin’ medication costs around $1000, and prices are increasing. Volunteers visit three properties per week, treating somewhere between 15 – 60 wombats at each property. While the medication works if treatment is continued for months, there is no way of knowing if the sickest wombat is the first one to walk through the flap after the medication has been topped up. So, each flap must be topped up weekly for months on end.
These engineers of the wild are constantly extending and adding new entries to their burrow systems. Each new burrow requires a new flap device and more medication, and it can take up to four months to treat wombats with extreme mange.
Fauna cameras capture the nocturnal and diurnal behaviours of wombats. This helps the group monitor the changing health of the wombat if they can’t be found. Camera footage also informs the future placement and maintenance of flaps.
Unfortunately, many of the existing fauna cameras were damaged by recent heavy rain and floods, and need to be replaced. More properties are revealing more sick wombats, so more cameras are needed.
Wombats are Aussies, but they’re not great swimmers. Torrential rain also flooded many burrows and these had to be drained with pumps. We currently have one very small pump, but with more heavy rain expected in the next few months, we will need more.
In addition, volunteers travel from throughout the mountains, and even from Sydney, to properties not serviced by public transport, and must spend money on fuel and the upkeep of their vehicles on the deteriorating roads.
You can help
You can donate via GoFundMe to Blue Mountains Wombat Conservation Group at https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-stop-the-rot-in-mangy-blue-mt-wombats?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=p_cf+share-flow-1&fbclid=IwAR3MX1BT_bDElqnsm8uGwDNTwDsfzAP2AtEK-8eM-oXEcc2MI_75iA896kY– Help ‘STOP THE ROT’ in mangy Blue MT Wombats’
Check out Facebook – Blue Mountains Wombat Conservation Group.