Australians urged to help save wombat species from extinction with an app

This image was removed due to legal reasons.

As wombats in Australia face further endangerment by disease sweeping through their populations around the country, scientists are asking the public to download an app to help track the animals.


The app, WomSAT, will help scientists map out where wombats remain in the country, and what condition they seem to be in. So far, it's helped to track the location of 760 wombats, not all of them alive based on this map:

This image was removed due to legal reasons.

Sarcoptic mange, a skin disease caused by mites, is threatening two out of three wombat species. The ABC reports that it has already wiped out around 75 percent of the wombat population in some areas.

"It's devastating. Absolutely devastating," University of Western Sydney associate professor Julie Old told the ABC. "It's generally fatal, and its hard to know how long exactly it takes for them to get sick but it can be as quick as three months from when they get the mites depending on the number of mites that they obtain."

Meanwhile, PhD students at the University of Tasmania are catching wombats in giant butterfly nets to try to study sarcoptic mange:

The wombats are caught, sedated, and tested and then released back into the wild in an effort to better understand how the disease works and its origins.