This sorts out the real Australians from the rest and clearly defines who we are, some of us anyway. Possibly one of the most iconic photo’s that touched a nations conscience was a few years ago. Its all about mate helping mates. Where wild animal and man can live in harmony and peace. Well done these people.
Koalas injured in NSW bushfires treated in couple’s lounge room
The lounge room in Christeen and Paul McLeod’s house in Taree, New South Wales, is a makeshift burns unit.
- Koalas in Care is run by volunteers Christeen and Paul McLeod
- They are treating koalas injured or left homeless by the bushfires
- They are currently caring for 24 koalas in their home
The husband and wife team behind Koalas In Care are treating koalas that have been injured or left homeless by the bushfires raging around the town.
“Koalas are the priority at the moment,” Ms McLeod told 7.30.
At the moment there are 24 koalas in their house. The couple are not vets, just passionate and committed volunteers.
“We’ve just been doing this for 27 years now,” Ms McLeod said.
‘He’s been very badly affected’
The injured koalas are first treated for burns.
“This is the gruesome task of having to clean up burns and treat them and hope that their little paws recover,” Ms McLeod said as she swabbed the burnt paws of Sooty, the latest koala brought in.
“He’s been very badly affected. His nose, his chin, his fur has been scorched.
“It’s a time-consuming job to do the treatments.
“It’s better to have them sedated so you can get it done without too much stress to them.
“They’ve already been through a lot of stress in the fire.”
Cream is applied to Sooty’s ears, nose and paws.
“What we’re doing is cleaning the soot off and we trim off any excess skin that’s peeling off,” Ms McLeod said.
“Then we apply more cream.”
Infection is the main risk for the koala.
“You’ve got a dirty environment and it’s important that you get them all clean,” lei disse.
“We’ll be running antibiotics and pain relief as well.”
And there are mittens for the koala’s paws.
“It just keeps the cream on the place that we want it, so that he’s not damaging the area further,” Ms McLeod said.
People from around the country make the mittens and send them to koala sanctuaries for emergencies like these bushfires.
‘A difficult and painful process for them’
Mr McLeod said that during fires it was koalas’ natural instincts that sometimes got them into trouble.
“When it comes to fires, koalas are probably their own worst enemy,” Egli ha detto.
“Their natural instinct tells them to go to the top of the tree and that’s where the heat is.
“So what we’ve come across is koalas high up in the trees and we’ve had to use bucket trucks and long ladders to achieve rescues.
“Even if by some miracle the koala escapes the heat in the top, when they come back down they’re going to walk across hot coals.
“So it’s a very difficult and painful process for them.”
After triage the koalas are taken through to the recovery ward in the house.
There the koalas are given some gum leaves to eat and Ventolin to deal with their smoke inhalation.
A nebuliser in the room also helps.
‘Somebody has to look after them’
With the koala population already under threat from chlamydia and a reduction in habitat, the McLeods are not optimistic for the animal’s future.
“It couldn’t have been more traumatic for us to see our koala habitat destroyed by fire,” Ms McLeod said.
“This fire’s gone through our main koala habitat area, so we’re expecting large numbers of koalas to come out of here.
“We expect it to be quite devastating for our koala population in Hillville and Tinonee area.”
But still they battle on to help save the animals they love.
“Somebody has to look after them because nobody else is doing too much, as far as the Government, in protecting their habitat and protecting them,” Ms McLeod said.
“So we do this and hope that we can save some of them.”
“We have a number of koalas in care. And it’s a scary scenario, but that may well be the only insurance policy koalas have for the area here,” Mr McLeod said.
“We’re not talking small areas. We’re talking thousands of hectares that it’s totally out of the question to put koalas back into.”
When it is successful, it is worth all the effort.
“The big buzz you get out of it is the day that you are able to take them back home,” Mr McLeod said.
If they have a home to go back to.