‘We were not able to save her, but we will never forget her’
A KOALA who evaded her rescuer but still miraculously survived the bushfires near Wardell last year, has now sadly passed away.
During height of the fires last September, Maria Matthes from Friends of the Koala was on the ground searching for koalas.
She was able to save a few and bring them in for treatment, but some ‒ including Makawee ‒ moved into areas where they could not be found.
She was seen in the heart of the bushfire and was badly burnt.
Amazingly, just a few weeks ago, Maria found Makawee, but she was not in a good way.
Friends of the Koala acting president, Susannah Keogh, said it was incredible that Makawee had survived for more than a year with her horrendous injuries.
"Koalas are such stoic animals," she said.
"She was 14 years old and by the time she got to us last month, was in bad condition, blind, riddled with chlamydia as well as many other things.
"While we were not able to save her from her many health issues this time, she has taught us a lot about what koalas can endure and survive from.
"She was lucky not to have died from her fire related injuries but she certainly wouldn't have been comfortable since they were sustained.
"Her paws were still peeling 12 months after they were burned, and her fur hadn't grown back on her more severely burn hands and face.
"She was a little legend and we will never forget her resilience."
Ms Keogh said the last year's shocking bushfires had caught their organisation "completely off guard".
"Koalas, of course, are not great at surviving fires, particularly intense "canopy" fires," she said.
"You see, koalas climb to safety - in their minds, things on the ground are dangerous and they consider themselves safer in the branches of a very high tree.
"Unfortunately, once they are at the top of the tree and the fire has reached the canopy, they have nowhere to go.
"Even if the fire isn't intense and only burns the understorey, the koalas will come to ground to change trees and burn their feet in the process.
"The last year has been an enormous learning curve for us here at Friends of the Koala."