Toby is known as the “wombat guy.” The Australian got the nickname because of his work saving the lives of wombats in his hometown of Hawkesbury where he chases and treats sick wombats suffering from deadly mange.
“Mange is a parasite that lives beneath a wombat’s skin, and slowly eats them alive,” Toby says on his Instagram page. “Without human intervention – it is 100% FATAL for wombats.”
Not only do the wombats suffer terrible itchy, scabby skin and lose their fur, many temporarily lose their vision and hearing as well, which is terrible for a nocturnal animal.
So, Toby has made it his mission to help save them. He’s been doing it for nine years and in 2021 he treated 27 of them!
One of them is Wilma. Wilma couldn’t stop scratching when Toby first saw him and he was almost totally blind. But Toby caught Wilma, sprayed him with antiseptic and then began treating him every week with the necessary medicine. Months later, Toby caught sight of Wilma with his fur growing back. Wilma looked so healthy that Toby could swear that Wilma was smiling at him.
Toby’s clips show it’s no easy feat catching them because they run really fast. He follows up treatment every week until they are better.
Toby often relies on farmers and locals reporting sightings of the sick wombats. They help him locate the wombats’ burrows so he can treat the animals week to week. If he didn’t the treatment wouldn’t work and the wombats would succumb to mange.
There are many brightly sprayed wombats walking around Hawkesbury because of Toby and it’s part of their treatment. “This magic purple spray sits in my car’s cupholder. It keeps flies and infections out of wombat wounds,” Toby says.
He also treats the animals with the topical medicine needed to kill the parasite.
Although it’s exhausting tracking, catching and treating the wombats and he doesn’t get paid or get back the time that he misses with family and friends, Toby won’t stop doing it. “[I]t’s all a worthy sacrifice to help conserve this gorgeous, enigmatic species. To lose wombats, is to lose the heart of the Australian bush.”