Stop taking selfies with wombats, tourists on remote Australian island told

Maria Island home to wombats, pademelons, Forester Kangaroos, Bennetts wallabies and Tasmanian Devils

A remote Tasmanian island is asking tourists not to take wombat selfies
A remote Tasmanian island is asking tourists not to take wombat selfies

Visitors to a remote Tasmanian island are being urged to stop taking selfies with wombats.

Maria Island, off the eastern coast of Tasmania, Australia, has launched a pledge for visitors asking them to not “chase” the native marsupials with their “selfie stick”.

The mountainous island, a national park, has no permanent residents – just park rangers and lots of wildlife, which includes wombats, pademelons, Forester Kangaroos, Bennetts wallabies and Tasmanian Devils.

The 44.6 square mile island, accessible only by ferry by mainland Tasmania, was one of Australia’s first penal colonies.

The ‘pledge’, which has also been translated into Chinese, asks visitors to behave respectfully around the wildlife when they visit Maria Island.

“I take this pledge to respect and protect the furred and feathered residents of Maria. I will remember you are wild and pledge to keep you this way,” it states.

“Wombats, when you trundle past me I pledge I will not chase you with my selfie stick, or get too close to your babies. I will not surround you, or try and pick you up. I will make sure I don’t leave rubbish or food from my morning tea. I pledge to let you stay wild.”

The online pledge has so far been signed by 421 people.

Ruth Dowty, chief executive of East Coast Tourism in Tasmania, told ABC Radio Hobart that visitors had forgotten wombats were wild animals, even though they didn’t mean them any harm.

“They pretty much ignore people, but people run up to them and they don’t run away,” she added.

“People get very excited about wombats.”

“As a state, we do a lot of education through our national parks, but there are parts of Tasmania where the animals are not as approachable,” said John Fitzgerald, CEO of Tourism Tasmania.

“We’re asking people to respect the fact that they’re wild animals and respect them for what they are. There was no particular incident that occurred; it’s just seeing an increased activity and people wanting to have photos of animals and get up close to them. We’re in the age of the selfie, and people want to take selfies in different locations with people and animals.”

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Around 31,000 tourists visit Maria Island annually, a number that has grown steadily over recent years.

The tag #wombatselfie has been used 428 times on Instagram.

In November, scientists figured out why wombats produced cubed poo. Researchers found that the elastic properties of wombats’ intestinal walls allowed for the cubes – of which they produce between 50 and 100 a day – to form.

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