Two “special detection” dogs have found seven koalas surviving in a forest in Maryvale, Queensland, that was burnt out by recent bushfires.
English springer spaniels Taz and Missy tracked the koalas and led rescue workers with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to the surviving koalas in the forest at Maryvale on Queensland’s Southern Downs.
According to the WWF, during the first morning of their search, Taz located fresh koala excrement, which led to the team finding a koala with her infant.
Koala conservation ecologist Olivia Woosnam said: “The joey was out of the pouch and independent.”
“They were in the same tree and they were moving around and seemed okay. We did a visual check of them and we’ve got no immediate concern for their safety,” Woosnam said.
Rescue workers searched more than 10 kilometers of forest on the first day, finding another adult male and adult female.
On the second day of the search, three more koalas were spotted alongside evidence of even more survivors in the area.
According to the WWF, koalas have been feeding on new leaves emerging in the forest.
More than a billion animals were estimated to have died in the intense bushfire season that impacted Australia in late 2019 and early 2020, according to a report from the University of Sydney.
The WWF said despite the fire having moved through the Maryvale forest two months ago, the team found a tree stump still smoldering. Credit: World Wildlife Fund via Storyful