Rare But There – Koala Rescued In Townsville

Photo of a sub adult male found on the Ring Road and taken to JCU vets.Open larger image

The sub adult male was found on the Ring Road and taken to JCU vets.

The relatively rare sighting of a koala in Townsville recently is a reminder that there is a small population in the region living quietly, mostly unseen and almost unknown.

The male subadult koala was spotted at night on 11 June 2024 by members of the public perched on the Ring Road near the Beck Drive exit.

The koala sighting created confusion and excitement, and several drivers stopped to look at the animal which climbed a road sign.

Thankfully a person experienced in wildlife rescue was contacted and collected it from the road sign and contacted the James Cook University (JCU) emergency veterinarian clinic.

At JCU, veterinarians examined the animal, collected tissue samples for laboratory analysis and found it to be healthy overall.

They then handed the koala to Department of Environment, Science and Innovation (DESI) wildlife officers.

Senior Wildlife Officer Tony Frisby said the Townsville region is considered by some to be close to the northern extent of koala habitat in Queensland.

“This is an exciting discovery as it is quite unusual for a koala to be seen in the wild in Townsville,” Mr Frisby said.

“It is also quite perplexing as the koala was found in an area considered to be unsuitable koala habitat, and we’re not sure where it came from.

“There are koalas in the broader Townsville region, but people might walk right past without seeing them, because they’re up so high and so well camouflaged.

“This sighting is a reminder for people in the region to report all koala sightings to the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service by using the koala QWildlife app, which can be downloaded for free.

“People who see sick or injured koalas or koalas in unusual places, should report it to DESI using the QWildlife app, call the RSPCA on 1300 264 625 (1300 ANIMAL), or contact a registered wildlife carer.”

Mr Frisby said if the laboratory results show the animal had no serious ailments, the koala would be released into suitable habitat in the region, in keeping with relevant Code of Practice under the Nature Conservation Act 1992.

“We have not yet determined the best location for the release of the koala,” he said.

As part of the 2024–25 Queensland Budget, DESI will receive $31.3 million over four years and $8.4 million per annum ongoing as part of the Saving Queensland’s Koalas budget measure.

The Queensland Government is also a contributing partner to the National Recovery Plan for the Koala, which is led by the Commonwealth Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water.

People are encouraged to download the free koala QWildlife app and report all koala sightings. Users can upload information about a koala’s location along with photos and any observations about their appearance and physical condition.

/Public Release. View in full here.