Blue Mountains News
Volunteers on a mission to save Blue Mountains wombats
But a group of Blue Mountains volunteers are on a mission to save local wombats. I joined them to learn more.
It feels like a covert operation. We’re dressed in sturdy shoes and warm clothes on a chilly day in the Megalong Valley, armed with makeshift poles to administer emergency treatment to sick wombats.
I’m instructed to be as quiet as possible. It’s the middle of the day but we can’t risk scaring the wombats away. It’s vital they get their treatment if they have any hope of survival.
Melina Budden, founder of the Blue Mountains Wombat Conservation Group, is leading me and another volunteer. It’s part of a weekly ritual, volunteers making the downward trek from the upper Blue Mountains far into the dirt roads of the Megalong Valley.
Here in the Valley, Melina and her team have named each of the wombats as they attempt to slow the spread of mange, a parasite that proves fatal to wombats if left untreated.
Today we’re expecting to see Eve, a wombat they successfully treated two years ago, now in danger again.
On cue, beautiful but bedraggled Eve appears just as Melina said she would. While we think of wombats as nocturnal creatures, they’re now venturing out in daylight for food, malnourished by the mange.
As Eve tentatively lumbers towards us, Melina remarks that she’s looking improved. To me, she still seems crusty and rough around the edges; a far cry from a postcard-cute wombat.
Anyone who’s encountered a wombat with mange will be familiar with the look: they’re often flyblown, with raw skin where they’ve been scratching and sometimes bloody, open wounds.
What’s less obvious is that they’re also dying from secondary infections, severe malnourishment, renal failure or from being hit by vehicles due to failing sight and hearing loss caused by mange.
As Melina approaches holding the pole and scoop filled with the chemical Moxidectin to treat the wombat from a distance, Eve lollops away, dodging the cure that could save her life.
Eventually Melina catches up with her and Eve gets two doses, but she will need more.
Find out more about what’s being done to save Blue Mountains wombats, and how you can help: here
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