18 months on - the fight to protect wombats from Mange grows

18 months on - the fight to protect wombats from Mange grows

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Mange is a highly contagious skin condition which is decimating our wombat populations. It causes itching, thick skin, infections and can impair eyesight and hearing in wombats. It is easily spread between populations through physical contact and burrow sharing and if left untreated mange is always fatal in wombats. Thankfully, it can be successfully treated. 

Thanks to support from our Corporate Partners Little Giant Wines and Bravecto – WIRES has treated many hundreds of affected wombat populations over the past year – and excitingly, have been able to significantly extend the reach of the treatment through the launch of the WIRES Community Mange Treatment Program.

The Program invites community members to complete the WIRES Mange Treatment Program, which was developed in consultation with scientists, veterinarians, and experienced wombat carers. The course covers methods and measurements for safely treating mange-affected wombats and monitoring the results for treated populations.

Working under the guidance of registered WIRES carers, community members who complete the course are then equipped to treat mange-affected wombats in their areas – making a tangible, life-saving difference to suffering animals.

18 months on - the fight to protect wombats from Mange grows

Harnessing the community to protect our wombats 

The WIRES Community Mange Treatment Program was successfully launched in October 2022. Since then, 133 community members have completed the course. Together, with the 207 WIRES members who are trained to treat mange, they have been able to treat over 600 hundred suffering wombats.

Together our program is making a significant difference – but it's a program we urgently need to extend to further communities, if we're to reach the growing numbers of wombats that urgently need our help.

The very sad fact is, mange continues to spread, and currently it is estimated that 90% of wombat populations are affected by the disease.

The call for action widens

In our continued search for more community members to complete the WIRES course and become Community Mange treaters, we were very excited when Ryde TAFE reached out and requested that graduating students of their Conservation and Ecosystem Management Diploma complete the course. This quickly grew into a WIRES hosted educational field trip, so the students could actively undertake wombat mange treatment.

Within the Diploma of Conservation and Ecosystem Management, students study pest control and ecosystem management. As wombat mange is caused by the parasitic mite, Sarcoptes scabiei, the online course was a great opportunity for the students to apply their theoretical learning.

They were then able to immediately put their knowledge to practical use, assisting in setting up 30+ burrow flaps and wildlife cameras along a creek line on the Central Coast, providing much needed assistance to WIRES carers treating mange-affected wombats.

Excitingly, the Ryde TAFE Conservation and Ecosystem Management team have now organised a second field trip scheduled for the end of May at two new Central Coast sites. This additional group of 30 students will install a further 30 flaps, further contributing to combatting mange on the Central Coast.

Thank you sincerely to the community, WIRES carers and of course the support we receive from our Corporate Partners Bravecto and Little Giant Wines, for making these life-saving programs for wombats possible.

Sign Up for Wildlife News

Stay in touch and get our regular rescue stories, WIRES updates and a free copy of our 15 Ways to Help Wildlife ebook