Hairy-nosed wombat back from the brink

03:58, May 26 2012
Hairy-nosed wombat
SMALL AND FURRY: A hairy-nosed wombat joey at the Melbourne Zoo. Another has just been born at the Richard Underwood Nature Refuge.

Another northern hairy-nosed wombat, one of the most endangered animals in the world, has been born at a nature refuge in southwest Queensland.

The joey has been spotted in its mother's pouch at the Richard Underwood Nature Refuge near St George.

Three decades ago there were only a few of the animals left, and Queensland Environment Minister Andrew Powell says each new birth is cause for celebration.

"The northern hairy-nosed wombat was staring extinction in the face in the early 80's when just 30 animals remained," he said in a statement.

The only surviving animals were all in the Epping Forest National Park in central Queensland, but the last census in 2007 estimated their numbers had risen to 138.

"The latest addition to this wombat colony is a further boost to the recovery of one of the world's most endangered animals," Mr Powell said.

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It is the third to be born at the refuge since it was established in 2009.

Because all the animals were in the Epping Forest National Park there was a risk the entire colony could be wiped out by a natural disaster or disease.

"In response to this, a partnership was established between the Queensland government and the Underwood family, who donated part of their property just outside St George as a nature refuge," Mr Powell said.

The two joeys born at the refuge in late 2010 are now half-grown and rangers expect the new arrival to stay in its pouch for another six months before venturing out into the world.

AAP