‘Best Feeling In The World’: Rescued Kangaroo Island Koalas Ready For Release
After thousands of koalas were killed during the Kangaroo Island bushfires, many of those that were rescued are now healthy enough to be released.
Injured koalas suffering from burns or starvation were rescued by wildlife carers after bushfires ripped through around half of Kangaroo Island in January.
Erica Martin, the CEO of the Humane Society International Australia (HSIA), is among those helping to release around three koalas daily back into the wild.
Some of the koalas have been in care since the January fires. Image: HSIA
“Some have been in care for a long time, but their burns are healed and they’re eating well and showing signs that they’re ready for release,” Martin told 10 daily.
The team mapped out unburnt areas of the island for the koalas' release, and are careful to avoid over-population but so far “the results are good”.
It’s genuinely the best feeling in the world. There’s a real feeling of hope, watching them leap out of cage into the tree.
The koala population on Kangaroo Island is believed to have declined from 50,000 to between 4-10,000 as a result of the bushfires, which Martin called a “tremendous loss”.
The released koalas will be monitored to ensure their release is successful. Image: HSIA
“In the early days, we were literally walking over charred bodies and saw the condition that some of the injured animals were in...we’ve gone from that horror to this happy moment at the end.”
Around 80 koalas remain in care while others are still being rescued from starvation in areas where their habitat was destroyed.
“We’re seeing happy times with koalas getting back to the life they should lead but a lot of carers around the country are still struggling and it'll take a lot to regenerate their habitat," Martin explained.
“This was probably the wake-up call we needed and the government needed that we have to protect our precious wildlife and their habitat.”