Wapengo Lake koala returned to the treetops north of Tathra

The Wapengo koala found yesterday (Oct 17) clinging to an oyster lease. Photo: Chris Allen
Briny in care at Potoroo Palace after being rescued from an oyster lease at Wapengo Lake on Oct 17. Photo: Chris Allen

‘Briny’ the young, male koala rescued by a Wapengo oyster farm last week was yesterday released back into the wild.

Chris Allen, Threatened Species Officer at the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) said the koala had made a good recovery in care at Potoroo Palace and yesterday clambered up a tree on a property north of Tathra.

“Briny, named by locals in recognition of his saltwater experience and after one of the people who rescued him, threw a few longing glances over his shoulder before scurrying high up into the tree,” Mr Allen said.

“He has recovered well from his ordeal last week where he was found clinging to an oyster bag in Wapengo Lake.

Briny just after being pulled from the waters of Wapengo on Oct 17. Photo: Brian Orr
Briny just after being pulled from the waters of Wapengo on Oct 17. Photo: Brian Orr

“When rescued he was found to be dehydrated but otherwise in a pretty good state of health considering his ordeal.

“This is only the second time a koala has come into care in the region in the past 20 years as the population is so small and widely scattered.

“That the local community could rally so quickly in so many ways to save the life of this animal is a testament to its commitment to support the recovery of these koalas,” Mr Allen said.

Briny's first steps back in to the wild. Photo: Donna McCulloch.
Briny’s first steps back into the wild. Photo: Donna McCulloch.

The successful rescue, recovery, and release of this animal is very much thanks to Wapengo Lake oyster farmers Brain and Carol Orr, who pulled Briny from the water into their boat, wrapped him up until he stopped shivering and took him to the Bega Veterinary Hospital.

Vets and the carers at Potoroo Palace Wildlife Sanctuary were exceptional in the way they provided quick treatment and closely cared for Briny through his recovery.

Looking for a tree to rest in. Photo: Donna McCulloch
Looking for a tree to rest in. Photo: Donna McCulloch

Mr Allen also said, “Thanks goes to the locally based koala surveyor Mark Lems who enabled the selection of an appropriate release site in koala habitat close to the rescue site and near other koalas.

“And the local landholders who have welcomed Briny onto their property that is managed under a voluntary conservation agreement.”

This one looks good! Photo: Donna McCulloch
This one looks good! Photo: Donna McCulloch

Work to better understand and protect the remaining koalas on the NSW Far South Coast continues.

Under the NSW Government’s Saving our Species program $55,000 has been allocated this year for Chris and his team to continue surveys, vegetation restoration trials, and fire management.

What are you lot looking at? Photo: Donna McCulloch
What are you lot looking at? Photo: Donna McCulloch

Learn more about the work of Chris Allen and the local koala conservation program HERE.

*Content contributions from NSW OEH