Safe Haven's chance to set up a natural refuge
IT WAS so hot and dry in South Australia last week, even the wind burned the skin.
But boiling temperatures weren't going to stop Tina Janssen, of Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary, from exploring a property that could help provide a refuge for unwanted wombats.
The property, near Nundroo, a small town on the Eyre highway a good 10- hour drive west of Adelaide, is home base for a large number of southern hairy- nosed wombats.
Ms Janssen recently got back from a trip to the site where she scoped out the 2800 acre property, which Safe Haven is looking to buy within the next 60 days.
"There was probably about a hundred (wombat) burrow systems (and) all the burrows were active, which is a good sign," Ms Janssen said.
She said because of the heat, the wombats were spending a lot of time underground, not surfacing - perhaps for a couple of days - which made it difficult to determine numbers.
"They are not an easy animal to study in the wild," she said.
Fortunately the Safe Haven team came equipped with infra-red cameras and were able to at least get a couple of snaps of the local wombats.
"The wombats are digging up the root systems looking for food."
Ms Janssen said if Safe Haven successfully purchased the property it would conduct research on the wild wombats.
"We want to understand the social dynamics for an area, (and) we want to know what the overall health (of the wombats) is," Ms Janssen said.
In South Australia, farmers are allowed to shoot wombats provided they have a valid permit.
Ms Janssen hopes to develop relationships with farmers in the area such that when a farmer wants to get rid of a wombat, they will call Safe Haven.
Safe Haven staff would then trap the wombat and bring it to Safe Haven land.
Ms Janssen said once they'd translocated the wombat, they would monitor how it settled in.
This sort of work would require equipment like radio collars, tracking equipment, and cameras, plus an investment of time on site, for health assessments.
"We are more than capable of doing that," Ms Janssen said, adding however that the organisation would need more funds to carry out the work.
Ms Janssen's trip coincided with the release of an updated threatened species list by the federal government.
The northern hairy-nosed wombat was upgraded from "endangered" to "critically endangered".
Ms Janssen said she hoped that by raising the profile of the species more funds would be allocated to protect it.
She said she hoped the upgrade would see Safe Haven granted a couple of the northern hairy-nosed wombats.
If you'd like to support Safe Haven's work, go the Safe Haven Facebook page: Safe Haven - AACE, visit AACE.org.au or phone Ms Janssen on 0408 613 914.
Donations are tax deductible.