I haven’t had a koala in the garden for a while. I don’t think my trees are part of their winter route. But I started dreaming about a koala being in the garden at the beginning of last the week. And on Wednesday, there one was.
I knew it was going to be there as I walked out to check ( as I do a few times a day!). I raced back to get my proper camera, because this koala was not up all that high. When I looked back at the pics I noticed something was not right with the eyes.
I called ‘Friends of the Koala‘ in Lismore and a rescuer was assigned to me. Wendy confirmed the koala was a female, and that she would need treatment for her eyes. She suggested I name her. In honour of one of my favourite artists, Frida Kalho, so this koala became Frida Koalho.
Hopes were high for a safe and successful capture.We set up a special koala tree trap. See the circle at the top? That’s the ‘low’ koala! These Gum trees are very, very tall. Basically we need to wait for the koala to come down from the tree, and with nowhere to go except in the pressure sensitive cage, she could be captured.
From my koala watching, I know that they sleep mostly during the day, and forage for leaves at night, and then usually at dusk or dawn come down to change trees if necessary.
After the trap was set, It was my job to check regularly and see if all was well. ie: that the trap door was still open (frogs have been known to set them off!) and if the koala had been secured, I was to call Wendy so she could come and collect the trap and get our furry friend to care.
On the first evening, I went to bed late after checking on her and set an alarm for 1.30am. I had the most VIVID and INTENSE dreams about walking in the garden with amazing wildlife flying, jumping, scurrying and leaping all around me. It was wild! In my dream my torch ran out of batteries and I had to come back inside and that’s when I woke up…just before the alarm.
When I went outside it was so peaceful… Not a lick of wind… The full moon lighting up the night…I felt connected to the land we live on in such a nourishing way. Frida Koalho was way up high still, and still up there at 3 and 5 am.
She slept all the next day ( much like me!) and on the second night, just before all light faded, I could see her way at the top of the tree again. I checked a few times during the night, but couldn’t see her at all. I was concerned she may have crossed to another tree via the branches.
But at 4am, I woke with no scheduled alarm. Just an inkling it was time to check on her. As I headed out, and shined my torch, I saw her walk in to the trap. I head the door activate behind her!
I called Wendy and she arrived to take darling Frida Koahlo on the next part of her adventure. Here is Frida, calm and cute.
Frida went up to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. The veterinary dept gave her a thorough examination and …. the very worse scenario was in evidence :
It is very sad news I’m afraid. Frida Koahlo was admitted to the intensive care ward and an ultrasound and testing showed she was suffering from Chlamydia, a bacterial infection that causes conjunctivitis, blindness and reproductive disease in koalas. Frida had a very large ovarian cyst which are progressive and very painful, which we were not able to treat or remove so sadly Frida had to be euthanised. We are seeing increasing numbers of koalas with Chlamydia as habitat on the east coast decreases so we thank you for keeping an eye on Frida and going to her aid when she needed it.
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
28 Tomewin Street, Currumbin QLD 4223″
I still cry whenever I think about it. Not only because I feel for her life as an individual, but I feel such a colossal sadness and sense of loss for all koalas. Hundreds are in care in my region alone. And this figure doesn’t account for the koalas that are euthanised.
My eyes are opened.
First I will look to what I can personally do to make my property as Wildlife friendly as possible. That starts with planting more trees.
I have joined ‘Friends of the Koala‘ and donated money.
You can do the same if you like. Please do:
Payments can be made to firstname.lastname@example.org through the Paypal website. ( go to your paypal account, select ‘Send Money’ and enter the details.)
I have donated a huge pallet of goods for resale at fundraising events to the Port Stephens Koala group.
I will also visit the Friends of the Koala Research and Rehabilitation centre as soon as I am over grieving for Frida. It may sound like I am being dramatic, but that dear little soul has touched me very deeply, and I need some space before seeing the rescued koalas.
When the time is right, seeing little bubs like this will make my heart sing ( look at their dear little faces!).
This is not the story I wanted to tell you. I wanted to tell you that Frida was fine, and would be coming back to me and live in that very same tree.
The reality is, koalas are in shocking decline. Their habitat is continually shrinking. Stress lowers their bodily defences to disease. But, as I said, my eyes are opened. My heart is strong and I will do whatever I can for them.
Watch this space.
Artomologist and Koala Mamma wannabe.