Jalu was injured by fire in Wardell during the recent bush fires affecting the region and is being treated at the Friends of the Koala sanctuary.
Jalu was injured by fire in Wardell during the recent bush fires affecting the region and is being treated at the Friends of the Koala sanctuary.

Survival rate for koalas rescued from fires 'not good'

AS DYING North Coast koala populations continue being annihilated by horrific bushfires, our only licensed rescue group is scrambling to save the singed survivors.

But with resources stretched and more fire-ravaged animals presenting to care, the time to get behind saving our koalas is now.

While hundreds of koalas are feared incinerated by extensive fires, Friends of Koala group Inc (FOK) revealed a mere 26 bushfire-affected koalas had come into care, and of that number sadly only three animals had survived so far.

Of those 26 koalas, only a mum and joey called Flame and Spirit had been released back into the wild.

One of those survivors was an 18-month juvenile named Ember who suffered injuries so horrific, her little feet were burnt through to the bone.

She is alive and is currently in care at the overflowing Currumbin Wildlife Hospital.

FOK care coordinator Susannah Keogh said while most of the rescued koalas were coming from the Wardell fires, Ember was rescued from the Bunjalwalbin fireground.

Although the koala hospitals in Currumbin, Port Macquarie and the Australia Zoo were full weeks ago, Ms Keogh said some were still taking in significantly injured animals.

For the first time since the bushfire emergency broke more than three weeks ago, the FOK team - led by president Ros Irwin - were yesterday able to head into the Bungawalbin fireground to search for surviving koalas, with Bear the Koala detective dog, his handler and staff from the Rural Fire Service and NSW National Parks and Wildlife in tow.

"We are hopeful, but the survival rate is not good," Ms Irwin said.

"Most of them have been totally burnt, dehydrated have smoke inhalation and already mal nourished from the drought.

"They are presenting underweight and most have potential kidney failure and there has been no capacity to rehabilitate them from the vets perspective."

"We don't know how many have perished on the North Coast but we do know that thousands have been incinerated and we will probably never know how many. But we will do whatever we can to keep these animals here and not become extinct."

Last week news.com .au reported Port Macquarie's Koala Hosptial GoFundMe page was inundated with donations for bushfire-affected koalas, amassing more than $1 million in three weeks.

Earlier in the month FOK launched a 'GiveEasy' campaign to raise $50,000 and have exceeded their target by $40,000 and counting.

"The community has been incredibly generous, but we do need more to get us through this period in order to better prepare for the influx of koalas we will receive into the centre and to sustain us into the future," Ms Irwin said.

She said care costs would escalate over the next few weeks.

"We need more cages and places to house the displaced koalas at the centre, veterinary services are going to increase, medicine and fuel will also be needed," she said.

"We have approached local vets who are happy to help house them but we will be far more effective if we can keep them in purpose built cages giving our wild koalas a better opportunity to one day be released back into the wild - what's left of it anyway.

She reiterated that the organisation rescues more koalas than any other rescue organisation in NSW, yet receive no ongoing government funding.

"We've also had 75 new members join since the November 8, but we always need more," she said.

"We are on call and expect to receive more sick and injured koalas from these recent fires in the coming days and weeks."

The group also have plans to build a koala kindy in the future.

To donate head to: or  https://friends-of-the-koala.giveeasy.org/urgent-help-requi…

Or www.friendsofthekoala.org