Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Bushfire survivor koala Ember spotted in the wild with joey

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Friends of the Koala, Dunoon and District Gazette

A koala so badly injured from the catastrophic Black Summer bushfires, vets didn’t think she’d make it, has been spotted in the wild with a joey.

Ember and joey
Ember spotted with her joey. Photo: Dr Roslyn Irwin

Ember was found in November 2019 walking on the burnt ground in Whiporie, New South Wales after devastating fires swept through the area. The 18-month old koala was rescued by Ros Irwin, former president of Friends of the Koala which works closely with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

Ember was severely dehydrated and her fur was black, coated in soot and badly singed. Her lungs were congested from smoke inhalation, and she had sustained significant burns to her rump and all four paws. She was given immediate pain relief, fresh leaf, and glucose water before being transported to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital in Queensland for emergency treatment.

Despite an initially worrying prognosis, Ember’s health improved and she was transferred to Friends of the Koala where she made a full recovery under the expert hands of the IFAW-sponsored vet team. Given the length of her rehabilitation and the damage caused by the fire to her claws, the specialist vet team transferred her to a soft release site where they could monitor her ability to climb and forage. Ember passed with flying colours and was released back into the wild in April 2020.

Some 18 months later, in the same area where she was released, Ember has been spotted with a joey of her own. She was sighted thriving in the wild with her joey by the person who rescued her – Ros Irwin.

“So many koalas were lost in the 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires, and we honestly thought Ember would be another casualty,” said IFAW-sponsored vet nurse Marley Christian.

“It is truly heartening to see her thriving in the wild and contributing to the wild population.”

IFAW Wildlife Campaigner Josey Sharrad said Ember’s story gives us hope as koalas in New South Wales face the threat of extinction by 2050.

“This is a real success story. Ember was touch and go for a while but to see her thriving in the wild with a joey of her own now is really incredible. It highlights the importance of our work with Friends of the Koala and our shared belief that every individual koala rescued and rehabilitated counts towards the future of the species,” Ms Sharrad said.

Dunoon and District Gazette October November 2021

This article appeared in Dunoon and District Gazette, October-November 2021.

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