Just like some human children, there comes a time when joey koalas are forced to leave the “family home” and fend for themselves in the big wide world.
After 12 months, koalas reach what’s known as the “dispersal age,” where they’re basically kicked out of their mother’s territory by an alpha male koala during breeding season.
It has happened and local koala rescue teams are inundated with calls to help young animals who have ended up in dangerous or unfamiliar places.
A young man was recently rescued from a tree in Noosa Heads after photographer Lance Hunt was alerted to his location near a busy road.
As Wildcare Coordinator in Noosa and the Sunshine Coast, Rachel Lyons said Sunny Coast News the koalas often needed a helping hand to find a safe place.
“From the age of dispersal, koalas are pushed out of their mother’s territory, usually by a larger alpha male and into unfamiliar areas,” she said.
“We often get calls alerting us if there is a koala in a dangerous place. Often we have trouble with threats such as roads.
The latest koala rescue came last week when Mr Hunt, an avid nature photographer, was on his usual bike ride with his trusty camera.
After retiring five years ago, Mr Hunt has taken up his hobby and is well known in the Noosa area as a freelance photographer.
He is also a regular contributor to Sunny Coast News Photo from the Day gallery.
“I was going around Leslie Drive and when I got to the top of the hill I saw a lot of crows, currawongs and butcher birds going absolutely crazy,” Mr Hunt said.
“I thought maybe it was a bird of prey driving the smaller birds crazy, but when I got closer I noticed it was a koala sitting in the fork of one of the trees.
“It was on such a dangerous road and had to be moved.”
Although the birds did not physically harm the young koala, Ms Lyons said rescue teams were called and transported the animal to Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital for further examination.
She said it was a common procedure because koalas sometimes showed invisible injuries if they encountered other animals, cars or fences in urban settings.
“He’s at Australia Zoo and they’re doing further diagnostic work and awaiting the chlamydia result so he can be released,” Ms Lyons said.
“He’s fine, it’s great.”
For alerting rescue teams to the animal, Mr Hunt had the honor of naming the koala, which is now known as Freelance.
“It made my day to be able to name him. I was so happy to be able to help her.
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Although it is difficult to determine the exact population of koalas in the Noosa area, Ms Lyons said the numbers were stable and potentially increasing with an increase in koala sightings.
“Overall, the population of Noosa is stable and potentially growing,” she said.
“We are hearing about koalas in areas where they have never been before.”
Residents have been encouraged to keep an eye out for koalas in Noosa and the Sunshine Coast as the breeding season continues and to contact rescue services about any unusual or worrying sightings.
The Noosa and Sunshine Coast Region Koala Rescue Team (Wildcare Australia) can be contacted on 0417 078 432.