WeAreTheWorld Blogfest: The Resilient Koala

Its that time of the month when we bloggers share positive stories of humanity to offset the miasma of negativity which pervades our world.

I chose this story of a resilient Koala and the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital because I am familiar with the area and the good work those volunteers do in protecting our wildlife from the ever increasing incursions of development into the animals habitat.

Koala escapes serious injury after being dragged at high speed along Pacific Highway


A koala that was hit by a car and dragged at high speed along a busy highway for kilometres has astounded wildlife carers with a speedy recovery.

Key Points

  • A koala has avoided catastrophic injuries after being hit and dragged by a car in NSW
  • Wildlife carers say the animals are at greater risk in breeding season, when they are more active
  • They are urging drivers to be cautious, and say koala numbers in NSW and Qld are in decline

The young female was attempting to cross the Pacific Highway, north of Kempsey on the New South Wales Mid North Coast, when she was struck by a car and became caught in its front grille.

Cheyne Flanagan, the clinical director at the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, said when she heard what had happened she expected the animal to be severely injured.

“I am not sure if the gentleman driving knew he had hit her or not,” Ms Flanagan said.

“[She] was dragged 10km along the highway, with the back legs down.

“The car would have been travelling at 110 km/h.”

Despite the impact, speed and distance, the koala managed to free itself when the driver stopped.

Upon realising what had happened, he called the animal hospital.

“He pulled up in Frederickton and the koala hopped out [of the grille] and climbed up a tree,” Ms Flanagan said.

“I’ve seen drag injuries with koalas before, and it’s awful, but when we got the koala out and started to deal with her it wasn’t anywhere as bad as we thought.

“I think she’s used up about half a dozen lives.”

‘A rush of adrenalin and hormones’

Ms Flanagan said the koala sustained some relatively minor friction burns to the lower part of its back legs.

“There was what you would call pretty bad gravel rash, but it wasn’t down to the bone or anything,” she said.

“It took off skin in a lot of places, and a bit of bare muscle showing, but no tendons exposed.

“It could have been horrific — there could have been no feet at all.”

The koala hospital’s assistant clinical director, Scott Castle, said the young koala had surprised them all.

“There was no severe damage to the head, or brain, or body, and to just climb out of the radiator and run up a tree — it’s great,” he said.

Ms Flanagan said the koala’s fight-or-flight response probably prompted its ascent up the tree.

“Sheer fear — I mean why wouldn’t you be in fear when you’ve just been dragged along the Pacific Highway?” she said.

“Koalas, kangaroos, and all sorts of animals when they have been hit and they are in pain and in fear, they get this great rush of stress hormones and adrenalin.

“I have seen kangaroos with broken bones take off.”

Resting and recovering well

The koala, which has been named Wazza, was estimated to be only three years old.

She has been in the care of staff at the koala hospital since the accident a week and a half ago.

She has had the bandages removed from her legs and feet and has been moved from the intensive care unit into one of the hospital’s outside yards to move freely.

“The big problem is where we should release her — there’s not a lot of trees where she came from,” Ms Flanagan said.

“When we pick up a koala we try to put them back generally within 500m of their capture point.

“They have home ranges and if you try and put them anywhere away from their home ranges they’ll go back to them, and then they have to run the gauntlet yet again of cars and traffic and fences.”

Drivers urged to take care in breeding season

Ms Flanagan has urged drivers to look out for koalas as they are very active now that their breeding season has begun.

“Please be careful, please look out when you are anywhere where there is any vegetation, and scan the sides of roads to make sure there is no wildlife coming out,” she said.

“We’ve had quite a few hit by cars lately.

“We have another one that’s come in this morning from Crescent Head that was hit during the night — he’s not looking too good.

“With motor vehicles and dog attacks and things like that, it is very difficult to pull them through.

Often they come in here with very advanced injuries, but we do what we can.”

Ms Flanagan said koala numbers were in serious decline in NSW and Queensland.

“The hardest part is that 90 per cent of koalas that get hit by cars or attacked by dogs tend to be really healthy animals, because they are moving around more,” she said.

“So that’s the loss of good breeding stock and it’s just awful.”

9 thoughts on “WeAreTheWorld Blogfest: The Resilient Koala

  1. Reblogged this on Carmel Bendon – author and commented:
    My overseas readers may not know that the east coast of Australia has been experiencing unprecedented bush fires from the beginning of Spring. This story about the resilience of our koalas (and other fauna) is a positive one in the midst of so many negatives and I thank Kate (lighttravellerkate.blog for sharing this story so that, in turn, I can share it with you.


  2. Thanks for sharing this Kate. What a difficult time our fauna has but their resilience is wonderful. In turn, I have reblogged your post because it is a positive story in the midst of so many sad stories. My son-in-law (in the Northern Rivers) has been battling the fires around his property (and that of his neighbours) for the last two months. He has lost out-buildings but has saved the main house – a large mercy for which we are thankful. Thank you, Kate.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Carmel, its been a savage time hasnt it? I have friends who live north of Lismore who have been evacuated 3 times . It is important to remember in such times of the innate reilience of Mother earth- and ourselves


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