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Published on : Wednesday, June 17, 2015
The survival and protection of Australia’s iconic wombat population has been significantly boosted by the introduction of new technology financially supported by Emirates Airline and Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley who share a dedication to conservation, sustainability and the survival of native and threatened species.
The new WomSAT app and website were created by the University of Western Sydney and partly-funded by Emirates and Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley. The app uses the in-built GPS system of any smartphone and allows everyone to report wombat sightings and record the animal’s health. This information is uploaded to a national map which will help identify wombats under threat from a parasitic mite causing Sarcoptic Mange and associated skin infections that are threatening their survival. The website also allows users to log the location of wombat sightings as they happen and provides detailed information on the symptoms to look out for.
In 2008, researchers from the University of Western Sydney approached Emirates to use the resort in Wolgan Valley and its vast property in the greater Blue Mountains to help conduct their vital field research, including the monitoring of the local wombat population. For the past eight years, Emirates has provided UWS researchers with a key location for wombat research and in 2014, stepped in to provide the crucial financial support needed to create a new website that aggregates all key wombat sightings and data that is sent from the WomSAT app for researchers to then analyse and ultimately, treat.
Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley is committed to conservation and sustainability and is the only Australian resort in recent history to receive permission to build in such close proximity to a World Heritage Area. The 7,000 acre carbon-neutral resort undertakes a wide-range of conservation practices that focus on the protection of regional biodiversity, the restoration of habitat and helping to re-establish and secure a future for many of the region’s native and endangered species, including wombats.
“The picture of wombat behaviour painted by the WomSAT data will help us find ways to manage and put strategies in place to reduce other threats such as motor vehicle collisions,” says Associate Professor Julie Old from the University of Western Sydney, who has been leading the research. “WomSAT is a practical way for people to participate in science and help protect one of our most loved Australian native animals.”
Both Emirates Airline and Emirates One&OnlyWolgan Valley have donated a combined $10,000 to help fund the development of the WomSAT technology.
“WomSAT is a giant leap forward when it comes to the protection and ultimately, survival of the native wombats that call this beautiful part of the world home,” comments Michael Payne, General Manager, Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley. “Conservation and sustainability is at the heart of everything we do at Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley, and we remain committed to supporting research programmes that will not only educate the wider public but also make a difference in preserving our unique fauna and flora.”
“Emirates remains devoted to the continuous development of environmentally-responsible work practices and eco-efficient operations on a global and local level, which includes supporting initiatives such as WomSAT,” adds Rob Gurney, Divisional Vice President Australasia Emirates. “We are a pioneer in eco-tourism with Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley in Australia, and are honoured to work with the University of Western Sydney to create new opportunities for protecting and preserving an important part of Australia’s unique natural heritage.”
The University of Western Sydney acknowledges support for WomSAT from the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries and the Invasive Animals CRC.