Concern rife for wildlife as koala hospitals reach capacity
KOALA hospitals in Currumbin, Port Macquarie and the Australia Zoo are reportedly full as local rescuers work hard to save what's left of the North Coast population from bush-fire ravaged areas.
The hospitals reaching capacity has put strain on the North Coast's only licensed Koala rescue group, Friends of the Koala and has come as "no surprise" to president Ros Irwin.
"We're full so we're having to look at making some temporary, portable runs," she said.
"It's devastating, thousands of hectares of pristine koala habitat have been lost as well as doubtless hundreds of koalas and many other species.
"Apart from the fires, the leaf on pretty much all their habitat has little to no moisture so the koalas we're rescuing are very dehydrated which is not good because it makes rehabilitation much harder."
While some North Coast koalas were managed to be taken to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary before they reached capacity, Ms Irwin said of the 12 koalas recently rescued from various fire grounds, only four survived and were in care.
The prospects for them "aren't good", she said.
She said the group had "no idea" how many koalas had been killed in the fires in our area, and they were unlikely to find out as most would have been incinerated.
"We know that at least five were found dead and buried by the firies - two on Summerland Way were hit by cars as they were trying to escape from Braemar forest and the others found on the fire ground," she said.
"We were advised anecdotally by a property owner where we rescued a koala in Wyan (not far from Rappville) who lost everything but one shed. While they were fighting the fire on their place in which many eucalypt were burnt, they could see a number of koalas coming down from the trees and running away but they couldn't catch them and they were incinerated.
"The reality is that our environment will take decades to recover if indeed it ever does so there's a long haul ahead for wildlife organisations around the state."
She said now more than ever, the group needed help from the public and if anybody sees a koala near a fire zone, please contact FOK for advice on 66 221 233.
"Koalas can appear fine on the outside but may be effected by burns, smoke inhalation, starvation and dehydration - all of which can be impossible to see externally from a distance," she said.
"Please leave shallow dishes of water at the base of trees for the koalas and other animals to rehydrate."