WIRES in $1 million donation to help save koalas


WIRES, the largest wildlife rescue organisation in Australia, has announced a A$1,012,399 three-year grant to a University of Sydney initiative to provide koala care, management and research.

The grant made to the Koala Health Hub, which is part of the University of Sydney’s School of Veterinary Science, will keep it running and allow it to respond to the increasing need for koala care and management following recent bushfires and droughts, the University of Sydney said in a statement.

BlackRock, Celeste Barber, WIRESAmazon, fires, australia

“WIRES fully support the critical work being undertaken by Koala Health Hub,” said WIRES CEO Leanne Taylor. “Thanks to the incredible financial support we received in response to Australia’s bushfires we are now in the position to fund this significant research initiative.”

“The plight of Australian native animals and in particular the koala is in the spotlight and we need to take action now and do whatever it takes to halt the decline of their numbers in the wild,” Taylor said.

The donation by WIRES is the largest one-off living gift (not a bequest) made to the university’s School of Veterinary Science.

WIRES (NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service Inc) were endowed with donations from Australia and overseas during the bushires. As part of the bushfire recovery, WIRES has funded a number of programs including donating over A$2 million to non-WIRES groups and individuals around Australia caring for drought and fire-affected native animals and a A$1 million partnership with Landcare to fund individual and group community wildlife projects. WIRES has also provided emergency to assist those landowners and groups who are not registered wildlife carers.

The University of Sydney’s Koala Health Hub benefits koala welfare and conservation by providing laboratory support and evidence-based information to those at the coalface of care and management of koalas, whether in the clinic or in the wild.

The funding by WIRES will be used to help the Koala Health Hub provide diagnostic support, expertise and coordination and communication to rehabilitation, university and government sectors. This includes funding a postdoctoral researcher and three PhD students, who will contribute to Australia’s pool of wildlife expertise and provide ‘boots on the ground’ to answer key questions to assist koala management.

WIRES, Port Macquarie Koala Hospital

Prior to the bushfires WIRES worked with Koala Health Hub and the University’s wildlife clinic at Camden, south-west of Sydney, to clinically assess koalas in care and as a referral resource for rescues needing rehabilitation.

According to Koala Health Hub Director, Associate Professor Damien Higgins, this grant honours the generous public donations to WIRES during the bushfires by providing the means to better manage the recovery of surviving koalas, and to better prepare for future events.

“The Koala Health Hub was established in 2015 and WIRES has been a valued collaborator from the start. Their support now will make a really significant difference to what we can achieve for koala care and conservation following the recent bushfires and drought. On top of the importance of health and disease to individual welfare, it is a key part of the viability and recovery of koala populations and their management. Koalas have long been under pressure from a range of threats and the recent bushfires have added to that”, said Associate Professor Higgins.

“To assess population recovery, and to safely plan, implement and evaluate recovery actions we need to understand disease and other health issues. Our field and clinical research targets these issues but up till now has been limited by funding.

“The need for diagnostic support and disease expertise is greater than ever. Numbers of koalas in care is increasing due to drought, longer term impacts from fire, and the ongoing pressures of habitat loss. Population recovery will require sound evidence-based decisions across habitat management, captive breeding and translocation, as well as coordination and capacity building in the rescue and rehabilitation sector. In addition to supporting our own research, the funding will further enable the great work being done by other koala care, research and government groups, so the benefits of this funding go far beyond the Koala Health Hub.”

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