Safe from harm: This mother koala and her joey were rescued from the fires near Maria River Road late last week.
Picture: Ken McLaughlin
WRAPPED in each others arms, a mother koala and her little joey clung to a wooden fence post as fire ravaged the bushland around them.
Fortunately, Maria River Gaby and her son Maria River Ken would escape the flames.
Rural Fire Service volunteers spotted the pair on the fringe of the Maria River fire north of Port Macquarie late last week.
Ken McLaughlin was among a five-person rescue team sent to retrieve the animals.
“It was certainly distressing to see them removed from their natural area, food sources and the protection of the treetops,” Mr McLaughlin said.
The anxious koalas were reached at about 4:30pm on Thursday afternoon.
For now, their new home will be the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital.
Koala Hospital manager Cheyne Flanagan said the two animals “were perfectly fine”.
But she was deeply concerned for the many other animals who are set to see a worse fate.
It would be a living hell, she said, for any Australian wildlife caught in the fires still raging in southern NSW.
Certain koala populations, particularly near Port Stephens would be hugely impacted, she said.
“It’s such a struggle for wildlife to keep going,” Ms Flanagan said. “So many species cop it badly, and these fires are going to just decimate some of them.”
Ms Flanagan urged the community to contact the local wildlife rescue group if they spot a distressed animal near the site of a fire.
Some animals, she said, may seem perfectly fine.
But life-threatening radiant burns could lay hidden beneath their fur.
“Weeks later, the cooked flesh will fall off,” she said. “It’s just awful.”
Call FAWNA (For Australian Wildlife Needing Aid) on their 24-hour hotline 6581 4141, if you spot a distressed animal under any circumstance.
Story By Mel PretoriusOct. 23, 2013, 4 a.m.
DRAMATIC KOALA RESCUE
Rescuers attempt to save a burnt koala on North Stradbroke Island. Pictures Megan Slade.
HUNDREDS OF ANIMALS LEFT AMID THE ASHES
By BELINDA-JANE DAVIS, Oct. 23, 2013, 4 a.m.
CARING: Carer Helen Mallam is nursing 12-month-old koala Zenani
back to health after she was caught in the Heatherbrae bushfire.
Zenani is one of the lucky ones.
She endured the wrath of the Heatherbrae bushfire upon her mother’s back and somehow ended up at the Williamtown RAAF base where staff found her sitting alone on Monday night.
Her mother has not been found.
Zenani, who weighs only two kilograms, is about 12 months old and is almost ready to be independent.
She was put in the hands of Helen Mallam, of Medowie, who is one of the Native Animal Trust Fund’s many koala carers.
Mrs Mallam named her furry charge after Nelson Mandella’s great-granddaughter who died in a car accident in 2010.
She is also caring for an eight kilogram male koala that was found hanging from a tree in bushland.
“They were dehydrated and starving,” she said.
“It’s lucky that they didn’t suffer from smoke inhalation and that the insides of their mouth wasn’t burnt, so they can still eat. They’ve been eating a lot of leaves.”
Mrs Mallam hoped both koalas would survive.
“Zenani is lucky that she hasn’t lost her nails because often they don’t grow back properly and they need their nails to climb trees,” she said.
A team of 10 Native Animal Trust Fund wildlife carers went on a black walk yesterday through the devastation the fire has left to look for injured wildlife.
Hundreds of animals have been killed in the fire, exactly how many will never be known.
Noah’s Ark Veterinary Clinic in Medowie has already treated several koalas and a red belly black snake that was found burnt.
Veterinarian Dr Ilona Hudson said one koala would undergo surgery today because it had been hit by a car after it escaped the fire.
She said it would have a pin inserted into its leg and be passed onto a carer, who would take care of its rehabilitation.
Residents are urged to put water in containers on the ground for kangaroos and wallabies and water in trees for birds and koalas.
Anyone who sees an injured animal and can capture it, can take it to Noah’s Ark Veterinary Clinic in Medowie.
If it is unsafe to capture the animal, call wildlife rescuers on 0418 628 483 which is a 24-hour emergency service.