Tagged koalas released back into the wild following Limeburners Creek fire

Back home: One of the injured koalas is released back into the wild following at the Limeburners Creek 'Big Hill' fires in December. Photo: supplied
Back home: One of the injured koalas is released back into the wild following at the Limeburners Creek 'Big Hill' fires in December. Photo: supplied

A number of koalas rescued from the Limeburners Creek National Park fires in December, have been released back into the wild.

But not before the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital fitted five of the seven koalas with radio tracking collars.

The koalas will be followed for the next six months.

The project is partly funded by the Threatened Species Programme – Save our Species – an initiative of the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage.   

A Koala Hospital spokesperson said the koalas were admitted to the hospital suffering burns injuries as a result of the Limeburners Creek (Big Hill) fires in December 2017

“The search and rescue team included staff from Port Macquarie-Hastings Council, NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service, NSW Forestry Corporation and trained personnel from the Koala Hospital,” the spokesperson said.

“The team conducted a search over a two week period and found a total of 54 koalas, most of which were located in pockets of relatively unburnt country.

Sadly there were a few koalas that could not be saved and some had perished in the fire.

Port Macquarie Koala Hospital

“Sadly there were a few koalas that could not be saved and some had perished in the fire.

“The project will be overseen by Biolink Ecological consultants, and the daily tracking will be undertaken by Saltair ecologists and Koala Hospital staff.”

The spokesperson said the Limeburners Creek fire caused a major disruption to the koala population forcing them in closer together and changing the dynamics of the normal hierarchy and food resources. 

This project will allow the Koala Hospital to see the effects of reintroduction of further koalas back into the post fire habitat, the spokesperson said.

“The other aim of the project is to see how koalas who have suffered some damage to their hands and feet cope with a return to the wild.

“The Koala Hospital trialled a different method of treating these burnt koalas. 

“There was minimal intervention used, with the koalas being given high quality nutrition and kept well away from human contact to heal themselves. 

“The results have been staggering in that all the koalas healed as well, if not better, than if they had been given regular treatments with anaesthesia/bandaging.”

At the cessation of this project, the data obtained will be published, the spokesperson said.

About the Koala Hospital

The Koala Hospital, Port Macquarie was established in 1973 and is an activity of the Koala Preservation Society Australia Incorporated (not-for-profit) and recognised world-wide as a peak body which participates in forums for debate on significant policy issues and plays a significant leadership role in research, providing advice and information to Universities and Governments regulating change.  

Home again: One of the released koalas enjoying the scenery. Photo: supplied

Home again: One of the released koalas enjoying the scenery. Photo: supplied