What a difference 12 months makes.
The recovery of an orphan koala joey at Port Stephens Koala Sanctuary has brought hope as the local community remembers the devastating impact of the 2019−20 Black Summer bushfires.
Nifty Latty – affectionately known as Latty − was found in June 2020 at Latitude One by Ingenia Lifestyle by a University of Newcastle researcher.
After seeing the young marsupial alone and without her mother, he reported his sighting to the Port Stephens Koala Sanctuary.
Latty is approximately 12 months old and while the story behind how she ended up by herself is not fully known, for locals she has been a strong symbol of the devastation to the flora and fauna from the bushfires.
After sightings of her were reported, Latitude One resident and Port Stephens Koala Sanctuary volunteer Pam Churchman was tasked with keeping a close watch on the joey until she could be rescued and cared for at the facility.
“I’ve been a volunteer for more than three years and I am passionate about koalas and their welfare,” she said.
“I am just one of the many dedicated helpers and staff there.
“I feel there is nothing more important to me as a volunteer to be able to help care for our sick and injured wildlife.
“Particularly koalas, who are vulnerable in the wild due to the lack of and continued destruction of their habitat by development, natural disasters − like fires – and injuries from cars and dogs.”
With the year drawing to a close, Australians are reminded of the fires that greeted 2020 across the country, with Latitude One itself being impacted by the blaze that sparked behind the community in April − burning through 250 hectares of bushland.
Ingenia Lifestyle project sales manager Sheree Richardson said that with the anniversary of the bushfires approaching, Latty’s recovery has brought up strong memories for the residents of Latitude One.
“We don’t know if Latty lost her mother and her home in the bushfires, but she represents hope at this time of the year,” she explained.
“The residents are so relieved that she was found and being cared for.
“They feel a special connection since she was found in our own community.
“While she still has a while to go, seeing little Latty successfully treated for Chlamydia and receiving the care she needs to survive has been like our little Christmas miracle at Latitude One.
“We’ve sponsored her through Port Stephens Koala Sanctuary as a community so that we can continue to contribute to her health and wellbeing.”
Analysts believe that as many as 5000 koalas are likely to have been killed by the bushfires last year in New South Wales alone, a significant proportion of an already dwindling population.
To find out more about Ingenia Lifestyle Latitude One, visit https://www.liveinportstephens.com.au/
Or, to find out more and support Nifty Latty and the Port Stephens Koala Sanctuary, go to https://portstephenskoalas.com.au/product/latty/