Gold fossicker’s grim find in rural location

CENTRAL Queensland ­fossicker Cameron Smart was looking for gold when he stumbled on a dire sight in Blair Athol State Forest last month.

As he walked over a hill he saw a dead koala floating in the dam and one not far from death at the water's edge.

He was surprised and ­disturbed by the sight but he knew he had to act quickly if there was any chance of ­saving the koala's life.

"It was very distressed. It was just panting," Mr Smart said.

He helped the koala drink out of his water bottle before picking it up and driving to the vet.

"It was just too weak to move," he said.

Despite his quick thinking, the "40 plus" degree day proved too much and the koala died within hours of ­arriving at the Clermont ­Veterinary Surgery.

Mr Smart grew up in ­Emerald and is familiar with the region but he had never seen a koala in the ­McMasters General ­Permission Area.

 

CENTRAL Queensland fossicker Cameron Smart was looking for gold when he stumbled on a dire sight in Blair Athol State Forest last month.
CENTRAL Queensland fossicker Cameron Smart was looking for gold when he stumbled on a dire sight in Blair Athol State Forest last month.

 

 

"They're a national icon and you see them struggling like that- it's just so dry and hot," he said.

The dam is surrounded by ironbark trees and several hundred metres away from the nearest eucalypts, which koalas eat the leaves of.

Concerned Clermont resident Sarah McLay took to the Clermont Community Group on Facebook suggesting residents leave out water for wildlife.

"A few graziers and farmers have mentioned that they have found reasonable numbers of koalas that have passed from dehydration in the recent heat," she said.

"If you're capable, think about putting out some water for our wildlife. Graziers, your dedicated water runs are probably saving more than you know."

RSPCA spokesman ­Michael Beatty said animals were changing their normal behaviours to combat dry conditions.

"The drought is affecting all wildlife," Mr Beatty said.

He said the RSPCA was receiving an influx of calls about wildlife in need of ­assistance.

Mr Beatty said flying foxes were also heavily affected by the drought.

He urged anyone who sees injured or unwell wildlife to contact 1300 ANIMAL.


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