Uniquely chubby & loveable, but tough & stubborn & determined, the Wombat is one of Australia's most enduring symbols. However, this remarkable creature is very much taken for granted by most of Australia's human inhabitants, as are many of the other surpassingly strange animals inhabiting the giant Island Continent.....for instance, Australian schoolchildren know a lot about tigers and elephants and suchlike, but very little about Australia's unique animals!
Scientific Knowledge about the biology and behaviour of wombats, and other Australian animals, is also decidedly sketchy; detailed observations of a specific type of Australian animal sometimes amount to a only a few papers in the scientific literature! Accordingly, dedicated individuals, even if they are not formally qualified in biological science, can still make very important contributions to Australian zoology (and botany). Indeed, Barbara Triggs, the author of this volume, is one of these scientific heroes! She has spent a lot of time observing wild wombats by following them around at night, and she has done many years of the demanding but rewarding "all day and all night" toil that is required in order to hand-rear an orphaned baby wombat.
This book is part of the excellent & uniquely valuable "Australian Natural History Series" published by CSIRO Publishing or by the University of NSW Press. Each volume in this series of books comprehensively explains a specific Australian animal in descriptive (but sometimes somewhat technical) language that is very accessible to motivated and scientifically interested members of the general public. All of these books are comprehensive and detailed and scientifically accurate, and they are fully referenced, which makes them valuable reading for university and college students and also for professional scientists.
As with all of the other books in this series, this volume tells the scientifically inclined reader just about everything that she/he needs to know about the animal that is the subject of the book.
Triggs' book is one of the easiest to read in this series, because her book emphasizes prose descriptions of how the Wombat excavates its burrows, grazes, behaves, communicates, reproduces & develops, instead of inundating the reader with zoological jargon and with masses of tables, graphs, and diagrams. This book covers all of the pertinent facts about wombats, and many sections have the air of "a fantastically knowledgeable person giving an enthusiastic fire-side lecture about their favourite animal".
It has to be said, though, that this book's easy-going qualitative approach does have significant limitations; some of the prose descriptions are too long and wordy, and their meaning is not always 100% clear to the reader......Triggs, despite her great erudition and her enormous enthusiasm for her subject, is a long way from being a master of concise and cogent scientific prose. Also, some of her prose descriptions of a wombat's highly unusual life-cycle and very complex behaviours can confuse the reader, because the book mostly does not include accompanying line-drawings and diagrams to further clarify exactly what is going on. This book contains few Technical diagrams and graphs and tables, preferring instead to leaven its prose with a large number of interesting (though not always very helpful for understanding!) photographs. So while Triggs' prose is, at least for the most part, good enough to impart detailed structured knowledge to the reader's mind, a much greater use of line drawings and diagrams and graphs would have helped to clarify the meaning of several muddy stretches of prose that do exist within this book.
In summary, I give this book a rating of three-and-a-half stars.....because a biologically savvy reader would prefer a more structured approach than this book provides, and an interested layperson would ideally prefer a book that is more readable.