An online fund-raising campaign set up by a NSW koala hospital has raised more than $1 million to rescue and rehabilitate marsupials devastated by bushfires.
Port Macquarie Koala Hospital’s Help Thirsty Koalas Devastated by Recent Fires campaign had by Thursday night raised $1,078,000 on GoFundMe, eclipsing the initial stated target of $25,000.
According to a message on the campaign’s fund-raising page, the size of the donations had led to the hospital extending the project beyond setting up automatic drinking stations in areas affected by bushfires.
https://www.facebook.com/100001814059073/posts/3301884656548637?sfns=moThis lady is Toni – she is an absolute legend…
With the number of new drinking stations increased, and a water-carrying vehicle to replenish the drinking stations, the campaign announced it would use the excess money to establish a wild koala breeding program.
“Some of the funds raised through the GoFundMe site will be directed to building a Koala Ark – a facility to allow the surviving koalas to be accommodated in a healthy habitat area,” a message on the campaign’s GoFundMe page read.
“Hopefully, these koalas will breed and a new population of koalas will be established for return to the wild.”
The campaign says 31 koalas have been brought to the hospital from affected areas since the bushfires began last month.
As many as 350 koalas were believed to have died during recent bushfires in the area, and the campaign said 75 per cent of the areas in the region hit by fire were prime koala habitat.
The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital normally treats between 200 and 250 koalas each year.
Koala hospital volunteer Lyn Booth told the ABC earlier this month that koalas under the hospital’s care would need to stay longer than usual.
“We expect to have the koalas in here for up to 12 months because they won’t be able to be released into their habitat because it’s non-existent,” she said.
“We’ve got to wait for that bush to regenerate so that they can be put back out there.”
Ms Booth said most of the animals in the bushfire zones had suffered dehydration, not only from habitat loss in the fires but from the drought, which had left little water in the leaves the koalas ate.
Bellangry State Forest (SF) Kate on the day she was found in burnt out country by Darrel. He may have got the sex wrong, but he did the right thing by gently capturing her using a big blanket and bringing her to us. Bellangry SF Kate has burns to hands, feet, face and full singeing of her body. She arrived very dehydrated and is now in the 5 star service burns ward at the Koala Hospital.
Posted by Koala Hospital Port Macquarie on Wednesday, November 13, 2019
The hospital rehydrates koalas and then examines them for burns, which are treated with burn cream before being bandaged.
Workers change the dressings every three days.
The fund-raising campaign is believed to be one of the most successful Australian GoFundMe campaigns, but its donations total so far is still well short of the country’s highest.
The MATW (Muslims Around The World) Africa Project with Ali Banat has raised $1.7 million since December 2015.
Earlier this month, the Koala hospital told its Facebook followers to be aware of fraudulent online campaigns claiming to be raising money for the hospital, noting that only one approved campaign was active.