Amid all the devastation caused by Australia’s bushfires, an unlikely hero has emerged: the wombat. Quite generously, wombats have reportedly been allowing other animals to take refuge in their homes, as they hide from the blazes that threaten their own habitats. Complex underground tunnels, created by wombats, have served as safehouses for other species like wallabies and echidnas, allowing them to survive an otherwise fatal situation.
Peter Hylands, a documentary filmmaker, visited the burnt landscape of the Cobargo Wildlife Sanctuary, and told Yahoo, “You’ve got animals that are completely unscathed and those must be the animals that have been under the ground, it’s the only explanation when the fire zones are so extensive.”
This sentiment is echoed by Wombat Rescue manager Yolandi Vermaak, who said, “At most, there would be animals fleeing into burrows. I’ve seen echidnas going into burrows — lizards, and skinks, rabbits — those sort of things. I have even seen a small wallaby.”
Vermaak also said that she hasn’t seen a single burnt wombat during her rescue missions, and instead has discovered a series of survivors — wombats and several other species — hiding in the tunnels.
When the fires are eventually extinguished, hopefully wombats get the praise they deserve — both from the people of Australia and their fellow members of the animal kingdom.