STRANDED:   Ipswich Koala Protection Society is in crisis after losing one of its animal ambulances.
STRANDED: Ipswich Koala Protection Society is in crisis after losing one of its animal ambulances. Rob Williams

Broken gearbox stalls koala rescue operation

THE group that rescues koalas across Ipswich is in desperate need of your help.

Every day, and night, Ipswich Koala Protection Society is on call to answer pleas from residents who come across injured or sick koalas in need of care.

For years the group has been using two dedicated koala ambulances, fitted out with all the necessary equipment, to transport the animals to its hospital for rehabilitation.

Every year the society rescues about 200 koalas from the Ipswich region and surrounds.

Its service is even more important given the city's rapid expansion, with large areas of land being cleared for new homes.

Yet one ambulance has been permanently taken out of action after the gear box seized.

For most of the year volunteers have managed with just one ambulance and now that one is on its last legs, volunteer Marilyn Spletter said.

The ambulances are refitted four-wheel-drives that allow the rescuers to access any terrain while carrying the all the equipment they may need to care for koalas in the field while transporting them to hospital.

The cost of replacing both ambulances with second-hand vehicles has been estimated at $30,000 - an expense the not-for- profit volunteer organisation cannot afford.

"Having those dedicated ambulances with all the gear we might need inside means better response times that allow us to get the animal into care in a timely manner, cutting down any additional stress," Ms Spletter said.

"The ambulance that died was about 25 years old and we'd already spent a lot of money trying to keep it on the road," she said.

"Our remaining ambulance has a lot of kilometres on it and we are worried that soon we won't have any ambulances.

"We desperately need a new one, even if it's second hand."

The group had applied for a gambling grant this year to replace the vehicles, but was unsuccessful.

It is calling for a major sponsor to help secure two vehicles that can be transformed into specialist koala ambulances.

Some residents have raised concerns about the council's approach to land clearing amid claims koalas have regularly been seen running from bulldozers, particularly in Bellbird and Collingwood Parks.

The society said council's policies for the preservation of koala habitats was more proactive than local governments in other areas.

On Saturday the council announced it had donated $6500 to the group to buy a thermal imaging camera that would allow it to spot and clear koalas from development areas before their habitat is impacted.

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