Wombat Love

By "branding" one of Australia's endangered critters, mining's Xstrata polishes its own badge

WARREN CLARKE / WPN FOR TIME

Wildlife officials sport corporate and critter logos.

It's a steamy antipodean evening, and I'm lost in the Australian bush, wandering around a remote patch of Queensland that is the last redoubt of one of the world's rarest large mammals: the northern hairy-nosed wombat. Only 115 of the burrowing, nocturnal marsupials survive in this 7,800-acre (3,160 hectare) preserve at Epping Forest National Park, and I've ventured out in the hope of spotting one. As my footsteps send wallabies bounding through the scrub, something shuffles through the grass a few yards ahead. I aim my flashlight, and I'm startled to find myself confronting a small, bearlike wombat. I've just become...