Late last week, wildlife rescue workers responded to a call about an injured koala in Melbourne. After rescuers retrieved the marsupial, who they nicknamed Sir Chompsalot, they realized they would have to perform CPR.
After becoming injured, the koala managed to climb a tree. While the rescuers were trying to retrieve the little guy, he lost his grip and fell from the tree. Luckily, the firefighters managed to catch the falling critter in a blanket, preventing him from smacking into the ground and making his injuries worse.
ABC News in Australia has the details:
Langwarrin fire brigade captain Sean Curtin said fire crews and authorities from Animalia Wildlife quickly got to reviving Sir Chompsalot.
"[Michelle Thomas] actually performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on the koala and one of the other [Country Fire Authority] members was actually pumping the koala's chest to get some movement in the heart and also get some air into the lungs at the same time," he said.
"We put it on O2 oxygen therapy to assist in getting some oxygen into the blood flow of the koala."
Watch the whole harrowing ordeal here:
The struggle between car and koala is a well-known problem, and it's one that will only get worse as more and more vehicles are on the roads. As I wrote in March in Conservation Magazine:
More vehicles, the researchers reasoned, could be accommodated in two ways: by widening existing roads to allow for a greater volume of traffic, or by building new roads, creating a more dense network. Both could result in increased animal mortality, but for different reasons. Under the first solution, more animals would die because they would be more likely to be struck by a vehicle while crossing a road. Under the second solution, more animals would die because they'd be more likely to encounter a road while moving through their territories.
"In the vast majority of cases, we found that increasing road density elevated mortality rates more rapidly than did increasing traffic volume on existing roads," Rhodes says. "Our studies indicate that strategies that focus on the creation of new roads are likely to be more harmful to wildlife than those that build capacity within an existing network." So fewer, wider roads are better for koalas than more roads overall. They also found that males were more susceptible to vehicle-related injuries than females, simply because they tend to have larger home ranges and move more on average, especially during breeding season. That makes them more likely to need to cross roads.
The researchers are quick to note that policymakers have to account for more than one wildlife species when making infrastructure decisions. While this model could be applied to other species with similar movement patterns, it can't account for other species' road avoidance and driver visibility. Koalas, after all, are fairly small; ungulates tend to be far more visible and easily avoided. And, of course, alternative road network design ought to be used in combination with other efforts to mitigate vehicle-animal collisions, like speed reduction measures, fences, overpasses, underpasses, lighting, signs, and more.
Sir Chompsalot is now recovering in a local animal hospital.
Header image: Langwarrin and Frankston CFA