Ollie the koala has scuttled up a gum tree after being released back into bushland next to Cordeaux Dam, between south-west Sydney and Wollongong.
The young male was stuck on the concrete spillway of the dam a month ago and had to be rescued by an abseiler to get down the dam wall then in a boat to take him to land on the other side.
Emma Meadows from Wollondilly WIRES was involved in the rescue and the release.
She said it was a bit different to the rescues she usually undertook.
“Most of the koalas I deal with are trauma related, hit by a car, dog attack or just in the wrong place wrong time dispersing,” she said.
“This was definitely an interesting rescue and more complex to organise.”
Ms Meadows was escorted into the sealed off protected area of the water catchment by Cameron Scholte and Geoff Stalker from Water NSW.
The cage with Ollie the koala inside was opened next to a snow gumtree, which he climbed, stopped to look around, and continued upwards.
“Perfect textbook release, straight up the tree which is what you always want,” Ms Meadows said.
“It’s good to see him back where he should be back in the wild.”
Ollie’s release came after a series of medical examinations by vet Ksenja Prejac-Vucko and vet nurse Shannon Newman at a clinic in Shellharbour.
They took blood tests, X-rays, checked his liver and kidneys, then delayed his release until he was given the all clear for chlamydia, a common sexually transmitted infection caused by bacteria.
“We want a healthy population of koalas out there and if they need a bit of help they stay in rehabilitation and then they get released again once they are better, ” Dr Prejac-Vucko said.
“Chlamydia is one of the biggest problems so we want to make sure that their reproductive status is really good before they go out.”
Dr Prejac-Vucko said it was special to have a koala in her clinic.
“You hardly ever see them so to be so close, to touch them, to smell them, that’s amazing,” she said.
“I do have an interest in wildlife so it’s nice to see them up close and personal.”
WaterNSW welcomed Ollie’s release into the water catchment and thanked those involved.
WaterNSW executive manager of operations Ronan Magaharan said WIRES had done a great job.
“As managers of the dam and surrounding areas, WaterNSW is happy to play a small role in what is a success story for our local koala population,” he said.
“This land is not accessible to the public, in order for us to protect the quality of our water, which also means it’s a great and unspoiled home for koalas and other native wildlife.”
It’s not clear how many koalas live in the protected areas of the water catchment, but there is now one more.