At the heart of my journey with wombats is the rescue work I do. It started as I saw first hand the amount of orphaned wombats coming into care. I didn’t want to sit and wait for the lucky few who made it. I knew there were wombats out there waiting to be rescued, suffering as they did so.

I assembled a wombat rescue car kit to help me as my travels took me to remote places where there would be not a person in sight for hours at a time.

Wombat Rescue

With my kit in my car, a flask of coffee, and hope in my heart, I set off….into the wilderness so to speak. I would get up at 3am and start the drive at 4am. And wherever I drove in NSW, I found dead wombats in the middle of the road.

I expected to find one here and there but the amount of dead wombats, wherever you are, was staggering. I started increasing my drives because I knew, for every day that I’m not out there, another pinkie or joey will die.

Wombat Rescue

The purpose of these rescue drives is to find wombats that have been hit by cars, or shot by farmers and left to die on the side of the road. More often than not the bullet wounds were old and festering while the wombat was run over by a car that day. How they must have suffered. And if found in time, the little pinkies and joeys that have survived the impact, can be rescued. To me it’s a race against time as these little ones don’t have much time. When it’s cold they only have a couple of hours. Even if the cold doesn’t get them, ants, the sun, foxes or birds might.

It is quite confronting seeing a dead animal. It is hard in the beginning, especially if their injuries are of such a nature that they have open wounds and are bleeding. But I powered through this and can now handle almost any curly situation that comes my way.

I believe the hardest of hard scenarios to find is a wombat alive but with a broken back. This happened early on and defined the depth of my compassion for these animals. I felt the fear this wombat had. She was on her back on the side of the road. The person who hit her just left her there. When I saw her lying there I thought it was another dead wombat that I had to check but then her front paws moved ever so slightly and with a sinking feeling I knew her back was broken which is why she wasn’t able to get up.

This was the hardest moment up to that point. I sat with her and tried to calm her, to soothe her but she was petrified. And rightly so. A couple of cars passed, not even slowing down or laughing as they passed. With the help of a passer-by I loaded her into my car where my daughter sat with her and we took her to the sanctuary where she was euthanised.

What keeps me going is knowing that although I can’t save them all, there are ones I can save. Captain was my first pinkie that I found alive. When I rolled his mum onto her back I saw her pouch moving vigorously. What an incredible feeling. He was a 395g pinkie, and perfect. Not a scratch on him.

I get asked so many times why I do this. Why not? Why would anyone not want to help these beautiful iconic animals. I have been told I am wasting my time, they are dead, why do I bother. This level of callousness makes me just want to do this even more. In every little way that I can, I want to help these animals, and in doing so, spreading awareness, educating people and helping them overcome some deep-set beliefs about these animals so that they too can discover how fulfilling it is to save another life.

I do this for that one that may be alive, waiting for me to come to the rescue.
One wombat at a time.
Yolandi Vermaak
Wombat Rescue