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Worst is yet to come for koalas

ANIMALS

- DIXIE SULDA

DOZENS of severely burnt, starving and dehydrated koalas in the care in the wake of the Cudlee Creek bushfires are just the beginning for wildlife volunteers working tirelessly to retrieve and care for injured animals in the Adelaide Hills.

Rachel Westcott, South

Australian Veterinary Emergency Management founder said she is receiving dozens of calls to injured koalas everyday, and the worst is yet to come.

“The burnt wildlife are starting to come out from hiding looking for food and water,” Dr Westcott said.

“That’s when we see their injuries.”

Scores of koalas have been euthanased as a result of burns from the fires, but this stage the tally is unclear, Dr Westcott said. Jane Brister, from Adelaide Koala Rescue, said she has been inundated with calls to animals as a result of the fire, and is caring for 46 koalas in their koala rescue centre in Paradise.

“We’re not usually dealing with this scale (of rescued koalas),” Ms Brister said.

“A big problem we’re noticing now is koalas are coming in starving … there’s just no food. And part of the problem is there’s often at least four days until someone finds them.”

Wildlife rescue organisati­ons shared concerns for the welfare of animals as the hot weather returns.

Professor Chris Daniels, from Cleland Wildlife Park, said the team had three fireaffect­ed koalas in care but were preparing for up to 20 being dropped off in the coming days.

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