Tina Janssen with wombat Dougie at the Safe Haven captive breeding facility.
Tina Janssen with wombat Dougie at the Safe Haven captive breeding facility. Liana Walker

Critical wombat program in need of funding

IF there weren't projects like the Safe Haven in Mount Larcom, the southern hairy-nosed wombat could go extinct.

That's according to Tina Janssen the owner of the base for Australian Animals Care and Education, who said hunting and culling were severely depleting wombat numbers.

Although the project's main purpose is to research the southern hairy-nosed wombat, and eventually the northern hairy-nosed, which is highly endangered with only 200 known individuals, they also look after other native wildlife species until they can be taken to carers.

"14 years ago we realised there was a need to do research on the wombats because nobody knew much about them," Ms Janssen said.

"We first set up at Rockhampton Zoo in 2005, we left there and set up our own research project because we had so much to do."

The facility has had major breakthroughs in their time. They have published 27 papers and are classed as world experts in wombat reproduction.

"We're now able to identify oestrus in the females,we also better understand the male reproductive cycle," she said.

"We've recently looked at stress from the drought on their reproductive system.

"We've been able to successfully breed in captivity."

 

IN GOOD HANDS: Tina Janssen from Safe Haven with a Red-tailed black cockatoo.
IN GOOD HANDS: Tina Janssen from Safe Haven with a Red-tailed black cockatoo. Liana Walker

In the facility's 16 years of operation, this is the first time they haven't been able to take on a research student due to lack of funding.

It has been a slow process however Ms Janssen explained wombats were difficult to do research on due to living in burrows and their timid nature.

She spends a lot of time visiting schools and providing education to the region's youth.

"Because it's been hard times and funds are low we now have to ask for donations and for them to cover fuel," she said.

She said they spend time fundraising at Bunnings sausage sizzles and recently had a display at Officeworks who will be donating money from rounding up to the next dollar for the month of June.

"We're always on the look- out for volunteers," Ms Janssen said.

"They just need to be happy to get dirty and put in a few big hours."

Ms Jansen hopes to wrap up the captive breeding program in the next two years to then take the project into the wild and start looking at Central Queensland koalas.

Can you help the research? To make a tax deductible donation visit aace.org.au



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