This Summer will be one to remember, with an extremely dangerous bushfire season plaguing New South Wales and Queensland. Bushfires are currently tearing through Eastern Australia, leaving communities devastated, not just for the humans that reside in those communities but also the native wildlife that inhabit these areas.
One group that is bearing the brunt of this natural disaster is our koalas. These Australian icons are already struggling enough as it is, with the QLD Minister for the Environment having declared them as ‘functionally extinct’ - thanks largely to habitat destruction, domestic animal attacks, bushfires and road accidents. The Australian Koala Foundation estimates that there are less than 100,000 wild koalas left, with the possibility that it could be as few as 43,000.
Unfortunately, the koala population is even more at risk now, as the bushfires have ravaged a habitat of up to 600 koalas at Lake Innes Nature Reserve near Port Macquarie. The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital predicted that approximately 350 koalas have died and the team at Friends of the Koala have reported to have received 12 injured koalas, with those numbers expected to increase over the coming weeks.
The Lottery Office were deeply saddened to hear about the devastating impact the fires have had on our koala colonies and as a result have donated $5,000 to the ‘Friends of the Koala’ group in Lismore. This donation will go towards caring for sick and injured koalas that have suffered from these bushfires.
‘Friends of the Koala’ is a non-profit community group run by volunteers that rehabilitate sick, injured and orphaned koalas. They rescue more koalas than any other organisation in New South Wales, however they lack ongoing government funding and require donations to give every koala the attention and care it deserves.
Recently, their hard work enabled them to rescue ‘Flame’ and ‘Spirit’, a mother koala and her joey, back into the wild after they were found suffering from burns, dehydration and smoke inhalation. Both are doing well and have since been released back into the wild.
Jaclyn Wood, General Manager of The Lottery Office, hopes this donation will allow more koalas to be treated and released back into their natural habitats.
“We value our wildlife here in Australia and it’s up to us to lend them a helping hand when they are at risk,” Ms Wood said.
“We hope this donation can provide additional resources to help sick and injured koalas get back into the trees, with the ultimate goal to increase their population after these devastating fires.”
Unfortunately, bushfires are a natural disaster that we often can’t predict. Our firefighters are working around the clock to protect not only us but also our fauna, and the sad reality is that sometimes nature is just too overpowering. In these cases, the best thing we can do is help minimise the impact these fires are having by supporting our local community organisations.
As the bushfires are still ongoing, The Lottery Office urges anyone wanting to help protect our wildlife to consider donating to ‘Friends of the Koala’. The smallest donation could help save the life of multiple koalas who have been affected by these fires.