Koalas Released Back Into The Wild After Being Rescued From Blue Mountains Bushfires
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Five koalas, which were rescued from the NSW bushfires in January, have been returned to their home in the wilderness of the Blue Mountains.
The koalas are the first of 12 rescued from fast-approaching bushfires that have been reintroduced into the eucalyptus forests in a joint effort from Science for Wildlife and San Diego Zoo Global.
After they were rescued in January, the koalas were sheltered in Sydney's Toronga Zoo until the area was deemed safe for their return.
“While they have coped well in care we are delighted to finally send our koalas home,” Dr Kellie Leigh, Executive Director of Science for Wildlife, said.
“We have been busy assessing the burnt area that we rescued them from, to establish when the conditions have improved enough that the trees can support them again."
She said recent rainfall helped trigger new growth, meaning the koalas will have plenty to eat.
"We will be radio-tracking them and keeping a close eye on them to make sure that they settle in okay," Leigh said.
The Blue Mountains is home to the most genetically diverse population of koalas in the world.
Devastating bushfires raced through the region during the summer, burning more than 2.5 million acres in the process while threatening native wildlife.
San Diego Zoo Global has been a partner of the Blue Mountains Koala Project for five years and helps with raising funds to support wildlife rescues.
But their release back into the bush is just the beginning of the story for these koalas.
“The radio-tracking devices that enabled us to find the koalas quickly and move them from in front of the fire will now allow us to follow them and find out more about how koalas use the landscape after fire," Leigh said, adding that it could also help them find pockets of surviving koalas.