Tradies' rescue stranded koala
THEY may look tough, but Duncan Stewart and David Hallman are softies when it comes to the soft and cuddly.
The pair were amazed to discover a young koala running the length of the fence in the middle of the Warwick Industrial Estate this week and sprung to action to capture the distressed marsupial.
“He was very strong, incredibly strong I’ll tell you that,” Mr Stewart said.
“We cornered him in the yard, grabbed him with a blanket, put him in a box and took him into the vets.”
While they downplayed their rescue mission, the pair were pleased to hear the koala – correctly identified afterwards as a ‘she’ – was doing well at the Australia Zoo Animal Hospital on the Sunshine Coast following enquiries by the Daily News.
The distressed koala was taken from the Warwick Town and Country Vets and given to Warwick couple Sue and Justin Elkington, who have been taking in injured and distressed wildlife for nine years.
“(The koala) was really stressed and exhausted and was found in the industrial estate probably due to the lack of habitat with trees being cleared and the like,” Mrs Elkington said.
“She was only a young girl about 15 months, just left her mum and was looking for her own turf.”
In the time the Elkingtons have been unofficial wildlife carers, they have taken in “about 30 or more koalas just in our area”.
“People would be surprised just how many koalas are around this area – but as far as the local council knows, there are no koala habitats,” Mrs Elkington said.
“We take in animals whose mothers have been hit by a car or shot ... we’re bashing our heads against a brick wall trying to save them while everyone else is trying to kill them.”
The Elkingtons have set up their own wildlife habitat at their property, following “Steve Irwin’s legacy of buying up big blocks of land to conserve our environment”.
So it was no doubt the little koala found in the industrial estate was in good hands.
“She wasn’t eating when we had her so we passed her on to a Toowoomba carer for better assessment,” Mrs Elkington said.
That carer was Cabarlah resident Clare Gover, who has taken in injured animals all her life and has held the special permit needed to look after koalas for 11 years.
“I took her to the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital – they have vets there 24/7 and know what they’re doing,” Mrs Gover said.
“They can’t find anything obvious with her, so they’re just keeping her for a couple of days for observation before I will then get her and bring her back and release her near where she was found.”
Mrs Gover said koala habitats were diminishing quickly as developments and drought damaged what was there.
“I have rescued six koalas in the past two weeks from the Darling Downs region – last and this year are the worst years I have encountered,” she said.
“Usually I rescue about 20 a year but it’s been double that – their homes are disappearing very quickly.”
Local Landcare representative Karen McKechnie said there was hope yet for local koalas, with some Landcare members developing their own koala habitat in the Clintonvale area.
“They are mixed grain and livestock farmers like us and they’ve just put aside a few acres of land to give the koalas a nice corridor down to the river,” Mrs McKechnie said.
“There is a program called Land for Wildlife available but this couple just did this voluntarily and without any funding.”
In your yard
- If you see a koala climb down a tree, stand still and let it to move freely
- Plant koala food trees in your yard
- Make fences ‘koala friendly’ so koalas can safely cross your yard.
- Keep dogs confined or restrained at night
- A dog doesn’t need to bite a koala to harm it - a barking dog can severely stress a koala
- Fence off a play area with “koala exclusion” fencing to separate your dog from the rest of the yard so koalas can cross without being harassed
On the road
- Look for ‘koalas cross here’ signs
- Slow down and be alert for koalas crossing roads, particularly at night