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WIRES works for koalas

Wednesday, May 31, 2017
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One of the most important things we can do for nature is save our threatened species from extinction while we still have time, says WIRES (NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service Inc.), Australia’s largest wildlife rescue organisation

The theme for this World Environment Day (5 June) of ‘Connecting People to Nature’, invites us to think about how we are part of nature and how intimately we depend upon it.

“It is almost impossible to think that in less than 40 years, animals like koalas could vanish from the wild in New South Wales,” says WIRES CEO Leanne Taylor.

“It’s not only possible, it’s likely. The government has passed legislation that will lead to broad scale land clearing in New South Wales which will threaten all native animals that inhabit these forests.”

WIRES is part of the Stand Up for Nature campaign that has opposed the changes.

The government has already identified the koala as ‘vulnerable’ to extinction in the medium term in NSW and there are currently endangered populations in Pittwater, Hawks Nest & Tea Gardens, and in the Northern Rivers region. There are numerous koala populations throughout the state including south-west Sydney, New England region, Clarence Valley and central west areas of NSW.

“WIRES is there 365 days a year to rescue animals that have lost their homes. And this Winter we’re asking people to donate what they can as the number of displaced animals only continues to increase,” said Ms Taylor.
In recent years, WIRES has received an increasing number of calls about koalas. In the last year alone, WIRES responded to more than 480 calls from around Australia to help koalas in need – that’s more than one a day! Some of these calls required action and follow up from WIRES and others were referred to other organisations.

The reality is that caring for native animals like koalas requires special skills and a whole team of special people. Since May last year, WIRES has taken into care around 40 koalas.

You can read more about some of our koalas that are currently in care.

WIRES’ koala coordinator, Vickii Lett says, “The value of what we do is in the care we provide”.

“Koalas come into care for any number of reasons, from being in places they shouldn’t be, to disease, dog attacks and motor vehicle accidents.

“Occasionally we get youngsters who have been separated from mum and we don’t know why.

“We always work with specialists to come up with the best case scenario for the individual animal, which could involve treatment with a drug or surgical procedure. We work closely with researchers and vets to ensure we are using the best practices in koala care.”

In regard to the koala population in south-west Sydney - although under environmental pressures it is free from the disease Chlamydia - WIRES works with vets and other organisations to ensure that the koalas there remain healthy.

“Generally if they come into care we will microchip and ear tag koalas so we can identify them after release. Follow up is important as it informs our care practices.”

Ms Lett says that WIRES work in tracking and monitoring local populations has helped in understanding the needs of koalas better and in educating communities.

The assistance of WIRES to the University of Sydney’s Koala Health Hub and the Australian Museum Research Institute is helping to educate vets and gain insight into disease control and effective conservation measures.

“I’m really concerned about koalas,” said Ms Lett, “I think they are in real distress”.

“We’re placing so much pressure on them. They don’t have good primary habitat, they have retroviruses emerging, and if the soil temperatures rise then the protein levels in leaves may drop”.

All of these pressures spell disaster for one of Australia’s most iconic species, says Ms Lett, who believes it’s imperative that we protect the good koala habitat that remains.

Find out more about the work that WIRES does for koalas by viewing our infosheet.

WIRES (NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service Inc.) is Australia's largest wildlife rescue organisation. WIRES’ mission is to actively rehabilitate and preserve Australian wildlife and inspire others to do the same. For more information visit: www.wires.org.au

For more information and high resolution images contact: Paula Wallace, 0404 088 501, [email protected]
All the images below are available in high resolution for publication.

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