The northern hairy-nosed wombat – one of the world’s rarest species – has been boosted with the arrival of a baby, Australian conservationists say.
There are only 251 of the animals left, living in two colonies in Queensland.
The new baby – known as a joey – is the first successful arrival at the Richard Underwood Nature Refuge near the town of St George, for five years.
Northern hairy-nosed wombats were believed to be extinct until 30 were discovered in Queensland in the 1930s.
They are one of three wombat species. The others are the common wombat and the southern hairy-nosed wombat.
Queensland Environment Minister Steven Miles said wildlife officers had been closely observing the mother for the past 10 months.
“It’s been a long wait for the wombat specialist team, but finally it’s confirmed that the joey has successfully left the pouch,” he said.
“This is the first addition to the reintroduced colony of northern hairy-nosed wombats in five years, and it indicates the new male brought in last year is settling in well.”
The St George refuge is the second to have been built and is now home to 11 wombats. There are 240 at the Epping Forest National Park refuge.
The main threats to the northern hairy-nosed wombats are wild dogs, disease and competition for food from kangaroos.