In early October, Friends of the Koala rescuer, Maria Matthes, was completing a routine round of visual koala health checks on koalas in East Coraki. The last koala checked before lunch was Les, named after the landholder where he lives.
Les looked great from one angle, but his anguished behaviour meant a greater look was warranted. Les was constantly swatting, flicking ears, and was extremely agitated. Maria could see Les had a severe-looking wound on his thigh. With no tree climbers available, Maria set a trap and stayed nearby, watching Les throughout the night to determine whether he was able to move and if he was eating.
By morning, Les had not come down into the trap. With his agitation increasing, and the extent of his wound looking a more serious, Joe Little, a local tree climber was called in to assist and helped successfully capture Les.
Soon Les was on his way to the FOK hospital and the IFAW sponsored vet team. The cause of the wound was not known, and will never be known. The most likely possibilities were considered from a fight with another male, or impaled on a stick, although a dog attack, or hooked on a barbed wire fence, were not impossibilities.
Once at the hospital our IFAW sponsored vet team quickly discovered the full extent of the damage – the infection was down to the bone and a substantial amount of muscle was gone. After flushing and bandaging the wound, Les spent a couple of days in ICU on heavy-duty antibiotics before moving to an observation room. Les quickly settled into care and was soon moved to an outdoor enclosure to continue his rehabilitation.
During his stay with us, Les came along in leaps and bounds. We tried different dressings and used laser therapy to speed up his healing process. From the initial removal of maggots from the wound and checking bone viability to watching the wound granulate and shrink in size, we were all amazed at how well this boy coped in care and just how strong he was. His final stitches were removed after 8-9 weeks of rehabilitation and the next day Les started climbing the cage, telling us he was ready to go home.
Maria was overjoyed to be able to tell the landholders, Les was coming home. It was a wonderful feeling to take Les back to his tree, the tree he was rescued from. As soon as the cage opened, Les bounded up the tree so quickly, had a sniff of the trunks, did a few jumps, before getting himself out to the small branches. With a bit of manoeuvring, Les got settled, grabbed some nice juicy leaves and started eating. A quick look down to say thank you, I’m home.
It is koalas like Les that fill the hearts of rescuers, care volunteers and our IIFAW sponsored vet team with the knowledge that we are making a difference.