Team of special dogs searching for injured koalas in Australian bushfires

January 28th, 2020

Do you know why koalas hug trees? We all think it’s adorable, but there’s a reason for it. Australia is a hot country. So to help with temperature control, they hug cold trees, go limb, and just fall asleep.

Another thing that makes koalas so likable is that they don’t pose a threat to humans or each other. They just live their lives and take each day as it comes. Let’s also not forget how slow their movement is.

However, this combination is proving to be a problem with fires that have been ravaging their home.

It’s creating a situation in which the koalas are finding it difficult to escape. On top of that, the surviving koalas, who may be in need of medical care and attention, can be difficult to locate.

That’s why any advantage in finding them in crucial.

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@landpsychology via Twitter Source: @landpsychology via Twitter


Australia has a bushfire season every year. Sometimes it isn’t that bad. Sure, damage to property and trees still occurs, but lives are usually spared. However, the drought season in 2019 was worse than usual, which made it easy for these fires to spread wildly through Australia, covering a large area and moving too rapidly to manage.

Take Victoria Province, for example. According to Victoria Emergency, lightning struck and started a fire that spread over a distance of twelve and a half miles in less than five hours. That’s a lot of area in a short amount of time.

Entire towns have been engulfed in flames, city skylines were filled with smoke, while more than half a billion wild animals were confirmed dead, with those numbers still expected to rise once the final count is in. Even with help from countries like the U.S., the Australian government struggled to contain the flames.

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@TomthunkitsMind via Twitter Source: @TomthunkitsMind via Twitter

What about the koalas?

Unlike birds that can fly to safer regions or animals that can run for their lives, koalas don’t have that many options. They can try to use the ground and walk away, albeit slowly, or they can choose to climb to the top of Eucalyptus trees that don’t burn that easily.

As you can imagine, they have a hard time dealing with the fires. They’re just stuck. More than 30,000 koalas have fallen victim to the flames.

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@plesbilongmi via Twitter Source: @plesbilongmi via Twitter

Dogs to the rescue

Steve Austin, a dog trainer with more than thirty years of experience, has been training a small team of dogs to help find injured koalas stuck in regions where bushfires are.

In an interview with CBS, Steve reveals that dogs are better at finding these koalas because they don’t have any biases when doing their work. They won’t ignore areas based on a hunch or assumptions. They rely on their strong sense of smell.

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@CBSNews via Twitter Source: @CBSNews via Twitter

So far, they’ve saved eighteen koalas and hope to save more. Eighteen sounds like a small number, right? Well, it’s not. According to experts, it would take the koalas about one hundred years to restore their population numbers to where they were before the fires broke out, and even those numbers were considered low.

Koalas aren’t classified as an endangered species, but they are considered vulnerable to extinction. Saving even one makes a huge difference. The dogs are helping more than people think.

Even one koala life can make a difference, not just to that koala, but to the population and survival of the species.

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Source: CBS This Morning via YouTube