At 7.30pm on the 12th July during my 5pm to 9am WILVOS Hotline shift a call came in from a distraught lady (Michelle) who was standing on the side of the highway, the new Bruce Highway, southbound lane, about 5 km north of the northern Pomona exit. She was shining a flash-light on a poor koala that had been hit and was huddled up against the cement groin in the middle of the highway. Michelle’s husband was racing back into Pomona, where they lived, to collect a blanket. I immediately called Rachel Lyons who was on site within 20 minutes. Rachel texted me a couple of hours later to say the animal would survive, that it was the third koala hit in the area that night that she had responded to and the only one to survive. The young, dispersal age male, went into extended rehab and was eventually put out into the final pre-release enclosure at the RSPCA at Eumundi Wildlife. When it was ready to be released Rachel called to see if was OK to release up where I live. This was just the beginning for the carers at Eunundi Wildlife. This young male did not want to be caught and it was another week before he was successfully contained. It just so happened it was on the second day of that fantastic Dr. Howard Ralph workshop and I was out the door at 4pm and trying to get home to meet Rachel as soon after 5 as possible. We were losing light but we took him down into the forest and I filmed as Rachel opened the cage at the base of a beautiful grey gum. He bounded up that tree with such agility and strength that we were in no doubt whatever of his fitness for release back into the wild. I am in an enormous area of beautiful spotty-gum and grey gum ridge forests and densely forested slopes and gullies with springs and dams. My neighbours and I, 3 adjoining properties, with VCA status and a total area of some 350 to 400 hectares of protected forest, have been working for years, photographing and registering every sighting, we have all had successful visits from Maya, the koala tracking dog and her handlers, working with the University mapping programme, and we continue to send them scat samples for their work. We have succeeded in having our area declared koala habitat and it is on the state mapping now. Rachel has been back in touch again to see if we can release another koala recently rescued from the Federal area and suffering from chlamydia. I don’t need to tell you how thrilled we all are to be able to offer such a beautiful safe haven for any koalas that survive from sickness or injury in this area.
For all of us that rescue and rehab our beautiful and so endangered wildlife, we need some happy endings to be balm for the heartache and tragedy that is so much a part of what we do. We have to stay strong enough to get out of bed tomorrow and do it all again.