The Southern Hairy Nosed Wombat, South Australia's faunal emblem, is under threat as the key guardians in their plight for protection, are being forced to relocate the safe haven they have leased, built and maintained to keep them alive. If they do not fit out a new home in 5 days, 40 wombats won't survive.
Brigitte Stevens, one of Australian wildlife expert Steve Irwin's prodigies (and still mentored after 20 years by Steve's father, Bob), is the founder of registered charity Wombat Awareness Organisation.
She has invested her entire life savings to rescue and house these much beloved little marsupials over the last 10 years, and is now in dire straits, needing to move on from the current leased site in Callington, S.A with no cash in the bank and no funds with which to relocate. After years of running the entire organisation on a shoe string, its become necessary to let the Australian public know of their predicament.
Brigitte and her colleague Clare Jans, must leave their self-created leased sanctuary in less than 5 days.
With the lease expiring, a lack of funds and the urgent need to have the necessary facilities and relocate these wombats to made man burrows as they settle into new surrounds and of course the limited time, there is a significant fear they will not complete the 500 metres of fence lines and man made transfer burrows to house the marsupials.
"I just can't live with that", Brigitte says.
"I felt strongly the species will die out if there isn't someone looking out for them. So I decided in 2005 that the person to do that was me. I've been running WAO without any government funding, and now I need help to keep protecting these vulnerable animals and find them a new place to be rehabilitated, monitored and treated as many have ongoing health ailments", Brigitte laments.
And in light of the recent bushfires in the surrounding areas, which regularly reduce the numbers of wombats in the wild, Brigitte is now even more determined to ensure safe passage for the dozens currently in her care.
"We need to find a suitable location where we can create a new wombat kitchen, to prepare wombat food, bottles etc, a wombat barn- a communal eating area for semi rehabilitated wombats, and a wombat ward, which is essentially a bedroom for wombats with brain injuries".
Currently Brigitte and Clare run a 24 hour service to rescue any wombat injured or found right across South Australia. They have the support of many animal professionals, who believe without these two incredible, women, Southern Hairy Nosed Wombats would be alone and without protection .
The ideal, is that WAO buy their own permanent sanctuary to house their existing wombats and those others in distress. However it will come down to how much funding can be raised as the perfect property with a significant acreage of native grasses will be several hundred thousand dollars, for now the immediate safety of the wombats is all that matters.
WAO has secured a leased acreage, which requires the building and or fit out of a rehab centre, significant 'wombat proof' fencing and man made built transfer burrows..it will ultimately come down to the generosity of people, and business as to what options are available to Wombat Awareness to complete stage 1 of their sanctuary .
WAO is the largest rescue and rehabilitation operation for the Southern Hairy Nosed Wombat, and after 8 years, continues to be the frontline of defence and protection for the endangered animals. Brigitte and Clare have run the organisation on a shoestring, but now it is time to ask for further assistance.
Brigitte is one of Australia's finest animal conservationists, is a highly renowned expert in her field, and has been working to save different endangered species, including the wombats, for 20 years.
"I will not rest until all the little ones are out of harm's way. I just can't… I don't know what to do this time", she says softly.
If you can assist in any way, be it via pledge or offering trade skills or corporate sponsorship these dear little animals and their 24 hour carers, Brigitte and Clare, would be forever grateful. Please go to http://wombatawareness.com/ or click on their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Wombat-Awareness-Organisation/153222788044636 .