Two trained spaniels have found seven koalas alive in an Australian forest that was affected by wildfires.
The area of forest at Maryvale on Queensland’s Southern Downs is being searched by springer spaniels Taz and Missy, who are trained to sniff out koala excrement.
During the first morning at the Maryvale property, Taz located fresh koala excrement, which led to the team finding a koala with her infant.
Olivia Woosnam, a koala conservation ecologist, said: “The joey was out of the pouch and independent.
“They were in the same tree and they were moving around and seemed okay, we did a visual check of them and we’ve got no immediate concern for their safety.”
The team searched more than 10km of forest on the first day, finding another adult male and adult female. Staff in a nearby building are leaving out watering stations for the koalas.
Ms Woosnam said: “There isn’t much leaf and therefore not much moisture at all, so they’d be getting thirsty.”
Dr Stuart Blanch, senior manager of land clearing and restoration, for WWF Australia, said: “Finding seven koalas alive amid the destruction in just two days is an encouraging start.
“It’s great to see that some koalas are surviving the fires and they can recolonise the forest as it regrows.”
The team explained that there is lush new leaf emerging in the forest, and evidence found that koalas are feeding on the new growth.