AUSTRALIA: A koala and her joey who were rescued from bushfires by Forestry Corporation of NSW firefighters in Mt Boss State Forest late last month were released back into the same forest yesterday after the fires were controlled and the area was assessed as safe.
The koalas were cared for at the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital while the fire threat passed. The hospital named the mother Mt Boss Matilda and her joey Banjo.
Forest Protection Coordinator Shane Dickinson, who found Mt Boss Matilda and Banjo in the path of the fire, smoke affected and dazed, said it was a relief the koalas had made a full recovery and could be safely returned to the forest.
“Fire season has started early this year and we’ve had all hands on deck fighting fires up and down the coast for several weeks. When I spotted this mother and joey in the path of a fire I immediately called the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital to get their advice and make sure we could get them out of danger,” Mr Dickinson said.
“It was great to be able to see the koala and joey in such good health today after the shock of the recent fires and I was pleased to be given the opportunity to return them to the same place I found them, now that the fire danger has passed.”
Forestry Corporation Senior Ecologist Chris Slade thanked the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital for caring for the koalas while the fires were brought under control.
“The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital are the experts in caring for fire or smoke-affected koalas so we were grateful to be able to call on them to get Mt Boss Matilda and Banjo to safety,” Mr Slade said.
“Now that the forest is safe and the koalas have been given a clean bill of health, we’re thrilled to be able to release them back into the forest where they were found.
“We’ve been monitoring koalas and their habitat in local State forests for many years and we know that bushfires are a real danger, so it was fortunate that Shane was able to move quickly to get this mother and joey out of harm’s way and that our firefighters were able to contain the fire rapidly before it did too much damage to their habitat.”
Forestry Corporation firefighters have been battling fires throughout the region for the past couple of months, including many deliberately lit fires. While the cause of the Mt Boss fire is unclear, there are now 120 hidden infra-red equipped cameras in State forests around Wauchope, Taree, the Hunter, Coffs and Casino areas to catch arsonists, following a spate of suspicious fires and ranger patrols have been ramped up in all State forests.
Solid Fuel Fire Bans also apply in all State forests on the north coast, meaning campfires and barbecues using wood, charcoal or other solid fuel are banned at all times.