Koalas rescued after Australian bush fires
December 14, 1997
Web posted at: 4:37 p.m. EST (2137 GMT)
COONABARABRAN, Australia (CNN) -- Volunteers are combing the
bush country in northern New South Wales looking for koalas,
and other wildlife injured in last week's bush fires.
For the last several days, orphaned and burned koalas have
been brought into a makeshift shelter in the spare bedroom of
a wildlife rescue coordinator. A zoo in Dubbo is preparing
to take about 20 of the most injured animals.
The volunteers from the Wildlife Information and Rescue
Service already have found a number of animal remains in the
charred forests. But the bush fires, which consumed 70
hectares (173 acres) before being doused by an unexpected
rain, aren't expected to permanently damage the koala
Wildlife experts say the bush is designed to renew itself
after a fire, and that when the forest begins to regenerate,
younger, more mobile koalas will quickly return.
When the fires began, researchers were in the process of
conducting a radio tracking survey of the koala population.
About 30 koalas were being monitored.
While those animals lived in an area that escaped the main
fire, they did endure -- and survive -- intense heat and
smoke. The researchers say their first-of-its-kind survey
found that the tree-dwelling koalas escaped by dropping from
the trees to the ground. This has never before been