PLEASE HELP: Our koalas desperately need you
AS BUSHFIRES continue to force our vulnerable koalas into care, more support is needed toward securing the future of North Coast populations.
Since October 31, Port Macquarie Koala Hospital have raised close to an astonishing $2 million through their GoFundMe campaign and while our only licensed rescue group, Friends of the Koala have raised more than $100,000 in donations, president Ros Irwin said their work was far from done and more donations were needed.
With several fires tearing through prime koala habitat on the North Coast since early November, hundreds of koalas are feared to have perished.
Since the fires broke, FOK Volunteers have been busy caring for 26 bushfire-affected koalas, but survival rates have been extremely low, with only 3 surviving and in care and 2 healthy enough to be released back into the wild.
Since last Friday an extra 12 koalas have come into care from firegrounds and of that number only two koalas remain in care and three have been released.
Due to the severity of burns, dehydration, malnutrition, kidney failure, and smoke inhalation, Ms Irwin said the others were taken to the overflowing Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary to be either treated or euthanised.
For the first time since the bushfire emergency broke the FOK team were last week 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.
But the rescue was unfruitful and Ms Irwin said it was "essentially too late to rescue any koalas that have been in the fires."
"We're focusing on getting the training and equipment we need to hopefully get into firegrounds earlier with the support of the RFS and other stakeholders," she said.
"There is no doubt in my mind the populations are in trouble and not finding any is a sign of that.
"I don't go along with or support the view that they are facing extinction now, even though the drought has been shocking and it still is, all the deforestation and the bushfires have taken a huge toll.
"I'm confident in the backwoods there are koalas that weren't in fires and have survived and we will do everything we can to make sure they don't. The funds we received from the donations will assist us in that desire."
A $20 donation can supply food for a sick koala for a week, while just $5 would help to get the group "over the line".
"The community has been incredibly generous," Ms Irwin said.
"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.
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.
She reiterated that the organisation rescues more koalas than any other rescue organisation in NSW, yet receive no ongoing government funding.
Another positive for the group is that Since November 8, 100 new volunteers have enrolled.
Ms Irwin said the support from the community so far had been incredible and thanked everyone who had shown support so far.
"It's amazing, we've raised more than double our target of $50,000 through the campaign and donations through our website.
"But please continue to get behind us and our North Coast Koalas.
Ongoing donations mean the group can survive as an organisation into the future and eventually be able to get a vet and vet nurse onsite.
"Money raised will also go towards the work we do already, the more donations mean we can do more work and for longer," she said.
"We don't need any more donations of supplies or koala mittens."
The group also have plans to build a koala kindy in the future.
To donate to the FOK Give easy Campaign head to: https://friends-of-the-koala.giveeasy.org/urgent-help-required?fbclid=IwAR1h9GRhRv8H3mRZzKb_IKi9exEq962y2ttVncksHQX0pbsIJ9Sdyn5Mh5s