WIRES Central West chair Jen Barnes says she has been heart-achingly sad since seeing this image of a disoriented koala sitting dazed in the heart of a decimated pine forest.
The photograph was taken by Wires Central West rescuer Louise O’Brien at a pine plantation between Bathurst and Orange.
Ms O’Brien rescued the adult male koala after a call from a member of the public at around 7am last Tuesday.
She immediately travelled to the site where she saw the koala sitting on a pile of wood chips among the felled trees looking confused and disoriented.
“It was just awful,” Ms O’Brien said.
“I was in sheer disbelief. I took a photo because I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
“He was so dazed I was able to walk up quietly behind him and wrap him in a blanket.”
Ms Barnes said the pine forest had obviously served as a bridging forest between patches of eucalypts.
“Koalas wander a lot more than people think,” she said. “They can travel numerous kilometres in a single night.
“This poor little fellow would have been out cruising around, then came home and realised he no longer recognised anything.
“There were trees there when he went out and they were gone by the time he came back.
“He had no path back. The trees were just gone. By the time Louise reached him, he had been sitting there in a daze for several hours.”
Ms Barnes said this was a real problem wherever there were strips of pine plantation among native habitat.
She said there needs to be some protocols in place to stop things like this happening.
The koala had a scratch on its eye, most likely from a wood chip, so he was taken into care for treatment.
He will be released this week back into the adjoining area of eucalypts.
Ms Barnes said adding to her concern is the fact that another koala was spotted a couple of days later, indicating there is definitely a colony somewhere nearby.
“This is representative of a much larger problem,” she said.
“Koalas are a threatened species, they are increasingly rare to due to habitat depletion. I am very sad to see this happening in our area, but that sad is now starting to turn into mad.”
Ms Barnes said Wires Central West is currently trying to ascertain who owns the pine plantation so the organisation can work with them on logging within the habitat.
“This can’t be happening. There must be some way to stop it,” Ms Barnes said.
“If not for one concerned person calling us, who knows what would have happened to this little guy.”
She has asked for people driving along the Mitchell Highway to keep an eye out for koalas on the road or by the roadside.