It’s great to see the koala conservation cause getting the attention it deserves, as well as some international recognition for the amazing work performed by Sunshine Coast Koala Wildlife Rescue and the Moreton Bay Koala Rescue teams.
KOALA RESCUE! MAN HAS DRIVEN THEM TO THE EDGE OF EXTINCTION. . . BUT A VOLUNTEER ARMY IS SAVING THEM ONE BEAR AT A TIME
Habitats are being destroyed to make way for towns and cities
Volunteers take orphaned babies into their homes
By ALICE-AZANIA JARVIS
PUBLISHED: 22:38 GMT, 27 August 2012 | UPDATED: 07:04 GMT, 28 August 2012
With their soft grey coats and teddy-bear ears, it is easy to see how Australia’s koala has won hearts across the world.
However, as these pictures show, the koala is in crisis. Taken over three weeks by American photographer Joel Satore in Queensland, they capture the creatures’ perilous struggle to survive in the modern world.
Once, 10 million koalas lived in the eucalyptus forests that lined 1,500 miles of Australia’s east coast. Today, just 2,000 of the creatures can be found on the ‘Koala Coast’. The marsupial — it’s not a bear despite its looks — was almost wiped out in the early 20th century by hunters who exported the fur to Europe and America. Earlier this year, the koalas were put back on the endangered list.
Great view from up here: A devoted foster mother has her hands full with three joeys while a fourth perches on her head
Perfect patient: A car accident victim watches in fascination as the dressing is cut from his brightly bandaged arms
Bright-eyed and busy-eared: This little fellow is fully recovered and on his way to be released back into the wild
Their habitats are being destroyed to make way for expanding towns and cities, which bring dangers such as cars, dogs, trucks and barbed-wire fences.
Volunteer groups, including the Sunshine Coast Koala Wildlife Rescue and the Moreton Bay Koala Rescue Team, are working to save the koala from extinction. Helpers are on call day and night to rescue the injured.
Despite their cuddly appearance, wild adult koalas are a handful. Their claws are vicious and their jaws, after years of chewing on eucalyptus leaves and gum blossoms, are powerful with very sharp teeth.
Orphaned youngsters — called joeys — are able to be taken into the homes of volunteers, who are specially trained as ‘foster’ mothers. But once they are reared and approaching adulthood, they need to go back out into the wild as soon as possible.
When a koala is well enough to be released, protocol requires it be left as near the place of its rescue as is practical. But as volunteer Megan Aitken, of Moreton Bay Koala Rescue, knows only too well, finding a safe haven can be tricky. ‘This is the big problem,’ she says. ‘There are so few places left for the koala.’
An orphaned joey takes a piggy back while mum brushes her teeth while another shares a kiss
Koalas that can no longer fend for themselves are taken to the Australian Zoo Wildlife Hospital near Brisbane. Founded by Steve Irwin — The Crocodile Hunter TV star and conservationist who was killed by a sting ray in 2006 — the hospital treats hundreds of koalas every year alongside sea snakes, kangaroos, wallabies and flying foxes.
The picture of a koala sitting up a gum tree chewing eucalyptus leaves is an international symbol of Australian widlife. Thank goodness these volunteers are working to preserve it.