Posted on 15th November 2019 by Media Relations
Taronga Conservation society Australia is calling for urgent funds to help its partner, the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, address the emerging koala crisis as well as Taronga’s long-term work that aims to change the trajectory of koala populations and care for any injured koalas treated at the Taronga Wildlife Hospitals.
Catastrophic fires have torn through huge areas of vital NSW koala habitat. When fires rage through forests, koalas have little defense, and often sadly perish. Koalas were already at high risk of extinction before the east coast fires ravaged their numbers. The situation was dire for koalas. Now it’s devastating. In the Lake Innes Nature Reserve alone, it’s estimated as many as 350 koalas have died.
“Our hearts are breaking for the affected communities, for those who have lost their lives and homes, and for the defenseless wildlife fallen victim to the earliest and worst bush fire season NSW has ever faced,” says Nick Boyle, Taronga’s Director of Welfare and Conservation.
Taronga has sent emergency relief funds to the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital where their incredible vets and wildlife carers are working tirelessly to save the survivors. Taronga’s two Wildlife Hospitals and Wildlife Health teams are also on standby to offer emergency assistance when called upon.
“Pressures on the Koala were already compounding – habitat loss and land degradation, disease, highly fragmented populations, droughts and heatwaves, climate change, predation by non-native species, and urban growth,” says Nick Boyle. “And now this. It’s difficult to digest but there’s only one thing to do and that’s to step quickly into action. We are in close contact with the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital and they need our help.”
Cheyne Flanagan, Port Macquarie Hospital Director, says the koalas in the hospital are already significantly dehydrated from the drought – these fires are another devastating blow. “The bushfires in NSW have decimated already declining Koala populations. Search for those still alive is ongoing. We need your help at this critical time so we can rebuild the population into the future.”
Before this emergency, Taronga has been building its long-term strategy to identify, connect and restore habitat for priority NSW koala populations. The rehabilitation research Taronga is undertaking will improve the integration of these rescued and injured Koalas back into the wild.
“Once these bush fires pass, there will still be a crisis for koalas. The next couple of years will be more important than ever for the long-term future of Koalas,” says Nick Boyle.
To donate to Taronga’s urgent Koala Appeal, visit: www.taronga.org.au/savekoalas