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Koala Rescue

We have been very busy at Bohollow attending rescues back to back. The days start early and the calls continue late into the night. We have had two cases on active firegrounds recently. One a few weeks ago and one on Sunday - both koalas. The first was a poor female koala who was found by fire-fighters at the base of a tree on fireground at Ulupna Island. She had two small blister burns on one hind foot but besides smoke inhalation and being extremely subdued, she seemed alright. Burns are challenging wounds to deal with as the extent of damage is not always evident at the beginning. The following day, the two blisters had progressed to the entire pad of her hind foot which eventually came right off leaving a very red, raw, foot which required dressings and wound treatment.

Koala Rescue Over the next few days her other hind foot began to show signs of burns coming to the surface. Both hind feet were treated and I’m happy to say are healing nicely with fresh new skin. One of her hands, more than five days later erupted with a now visible burn wound as well which meant more treatment and dressings. She is coping well with her time in care and we expect she will make a full recovery. Once her wounds are completely healed, she will be returned to her wild home. On Sunday we were called to an injured koala who was still eight metres up a gum tree but was showing signs of a leg injury. Although he was unwell, getting the feisty boy to give up his comfortable perch in a fork in the tree trunk and come to ground wasn’t an easy task.

After a lengthy battle with my rescue poles and nets, eventually resorting to putting our big extension ladder up so I had a bit more control over stopping him from going even higher, we managed to persuade the irritable koala that down was the best way to go. Once safely packed for transport we took him back to our Kotupna shelter where Deb and I confirmed he does have a leg injury so he is currently settling into care with an x-ray planned for this week to check for any fractures that we may not have been able to pick up due to swelling. Both these animals came off bushfire ground where the fires were extremely slow burning.

The canopy was not burnt at all, both fires moving slowly across the bushland floor. The Ulupna fire was one of a number of fires which were deliberately lit, while it has not been determined how the Coomboona fire was started. This demonstrates how devastating even a low, slow moving fire can be for wildlife. Most birds and animals are able to move out of the way before they get burnt but both these koalas got injured moving across hot ground. They weren’t burnt in the initial fire but got injured traversing across the hot earth once the fire had passed through. Spare a thought for any ground dwelling insects, spiders, reptiles, etc which may not have been able to clear out in time or find an adequate hiding place to shelter from the heat and fire.

Fire, even slow burns, can be devastating for the immediate ecosystem which is burnt.