koala sooty burns at care centre near full recovery 013The bushfires raging in koala habitat west of Cabarita are an acute reminder that koalas do not cope well with fire. Heat and smoke may cause respiratory problems such as pneumonia. Even minor burns, if not treated, can become infected.

Tweed carer Sue Johnson said: “We are working closely with Murwillumbah Fire Control and will be permitted access to the fire-ground as soon as it is safe.

“The situation is always difficult because the initial search does not usually pick up everything. Koalas can be spotted weeks after a fire has stopped burning, still suffering from injuries such as burnt paws and ears.”

Koalas are also displaced by bushfires and are reported in odd places. It is particularly important to contain dogs on properties within reasonable proximity to a fire-ground well after the danger has passed.

People can assist by reporting koalas seen in or around fire-grounds to the Friends of the Koala Rescue Hotline.

koala sooty burnt kyogle 030-1Be aware that a koala low in a tree for any length of time or which does not scamper off when approached is probably a koala in trouble.

Members of the public are requested not to attempt to pick up an animal unless advised by an experienced koala rescuer. Even when they are weak and suffering, a koala has the potential to inflict serious injury.

The Koala in Tweed Shire is under increasing threat. Please call Friends of the Koala’s 24/7 hotline 6622 1233 or visit www.friendsofthekoala.org for more information on what you can do to help save those that remain.

PICTURES: Sooty, a koala brought in after a fire in the Border Ranges several weeks ago. Sooty’s fur was singed from ears to tail ; her paws were burnt and her eyes were shut tight with pus from Chlamydia conjunctivitis.  She is now nearing full recovery (pictured above) at the Koala Care Centre in East Lismore and will soon be released.