This month, we’re shining a spotlight on our incredible customer, Yolandi Vermaak. Passionate about Australian wildlife conservation, Yolandi founded Wombat Rescue, a volunteer group working tirelessly to protect and rescue wombats. But the work of this group doesn’t stop at helping wombats which are injured by cars or shot. The volunteers and supporters of Wombat Rescue are also working to treat wombats riddled with Mange, a parasite which has now reached epidemic proportions in states across Australia. Keep reading to discover more about the extraordinary efforts of Yolandi and Wombat Rescue.
What do you love most about living in a rural area/community and doing what you do with the wombats?
I love being part of something bigger than myself – helping a species in dire need of intervention. I also love that there are people out there who are desperate for information and as soon as they read a post of mine,
they contact me with questions and take on board what I teach them. If more people are willing to stop and check pouches, we can help so many more to not suffer.
What’s the most challenging part of rescuing wombats?
There are a few challenges. The biggest for me is coping emotionally with the sight and knowledge of people driving over wombats on purpose. It does happen and I do not understand that frame of mind that anyone could do that.
It’s also very hard finding a wombat that was hit but left alive in the middle of the road. The terror in their eyes breaks me. It does take a lot out of me seeing this as I know how badly that wombat has suffered and their fear and pain is something I feel deeply.
What are the handy products you rely on?
For rescue, I have my trusted rescue kit with me. You don’t need it, but having any or all of these items with you makes the rescue so much easier. But if you don’t have anything, you can still do a rescue, don’t let a lack of these items stop you from checking the pouch and helping a baby animal.
My rescue kit consists of gloves, spray paint, towel, sharp scissors, strong torch or headlamp, soft flannelette pouch or pillowcase, and crate.
How do you manage the unpredictability of handling wildlife and other challenging conditions in helping wombats?
I have come to know wild wombats and their behaviour quite well. I would always caution people to not approach them but I am comfortable doing so as I understand their behaviour. I have never been attacked by a wombat as they generally fear us. I guess I get used to the unpredictability. My children know I can be home or I can’t. Some evenings I don’t get to eat a warm meal, or some weekends when I thought I had some time to myself, I’ve found myself racing across areas doing call after call. It all depends on how many calls and requests I get to go out and help someone or a wombat that someone sighted.
It makes life hard as I’m juggling a full-time job and two kids, but the priority for me is that there are wombats out there needing help immediately, not after I finished a warm meal.
Have there been any recent technological developments that you’ve implemented to support wombat rescue?
I am working with an engineer on a new invention of his to dispense medicine in a different way. I have found that a lot of burrows we are treating have multiple wombats and our current burrow flap method means only the first wombat to exit the burrow will get a dose. This poses a serious challenge for me as I need to treat all occupants of every burrow. This is still in its early stages.
Where can we find you on the weekend/what are your favourite things to do outside of rescuing wombats?
Sleeping and reading a book…to escape a little. I’m a complete bookworm and love spy novels.