A group of four koalas and one young joey rescued during the bushfires have been released back into the Blue Mountains following weeks of rehabilitation.
The group of native mammals had been staying at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo for the time being until their native habitat in the Kanangra-Boyd National Park was deemed safe for reintroduction. The Blue Mountains were one of the most heavily affected areas by the most recent bushfires, with some 80% of its world heritage area affected by fires since late last year.
The return of these animals is part of a wider strategy by local conservationists to re-establish populations of koalas and other mammals in the Blue Mountains region. They are the first of 12 koalas from the area who have been sheltering at Taronga Zoo, with the remaining due to also be released within the next month.
"While they have coped well in care, we are delighted to finally send our koalas home. We have been busy assessing the burnt area that we rescued them from, to establish when the conditions have improved enough that the trees can support them again,” said Dr Kellie Leigh, executive director of conservation group Science for Wildlife, in a statement.
“The recent rains have helped and there is now plenty of new growth for them to eat, so the time is right. "
These koalas could be rescued prior to bushfires reaching them as they had been fitted with tracking devices for research purposes. This same technology will now allow scientists to monitor how the animals react and adapt to their new habitat following release.
Scientists from Science for Wildlife, the organisation managing the project, said they hope these efforts along with other measures such as installation of water stations will help to restore local koala populations.
- Find out more about the Science for Wildlife Blue Mountains Koala Project and how you can get involved through citizen science.
- Koalas and other native wildlife require native trees for habitat. Find out how you can support local wildlife through National Tree Day 2020.
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