19/06/2017 2:09 PM AEST | Updated 19/06/2017 5:07 PM AEST

When Koalas Lose Their Forests, They End Up In The Strangest Places

How much can a koala bear?

Koala habitat is disappearing, especially in Queensland, where land clearing laws enacted under the previous conservative state government remain in place despite a change of government.

So what does a koala do when it loses the eucalyptus trees upon which it relies for food, shelter and safety from predators?

It heads for the highest refuge point it can find, that's what -- leaves or no leaves, branches or no branches.


Clare Gover, Return to the Wild Inc. / WWF-Aus

Queensland wildlife carer Clare Gover rescues and rehabilitates Australian animals like koalas and wombats, and when possible, returns them to the wild. In the course of her work, she has documented some of the unusual places where koalas end up when their habitat is destroyed.

They range from the suburban...

Clare Gover, Return to the Wild Inc. / WWF-Aus

... to the ridiculous.

Clare Gover, Return to the Wild Inc. / WWF-Aus

And in some cases, they just end up somewhere rather painful.

Clare Gover, Return to the Wild Inc. / WWF-Aus

One of the troubling things that happens to koalas when their forest homes are destroyed is that they come into contact with farm animals. Both cattle and horses can be extremely rough with koalas, and will often maul them.

The koala below unfortunately didn't make it.

"The animal was drenched in cattle saliva after being bitten and tossed. Its injuries were so severe it had to be euthanised by a vet," Gover said.

Clare Gover, Return to the Wild Inc. / WWF-Aus

WWF-Australia has produced a quick, two-minute video which documents the plight of koalas in cleared land in Queensland. It features footage of the koala above, so again, we repeat our warning about distressing images.

So what can you do to help Australia's dwindling koala population -- which by most estimates, is now below 100,000 animals?

One way is through WWF-Australia's koala campaign, which aims to save the species and other wildlife by protecting forests.

WWF-Australia is encouraging people to create and send a digital origami koala, called a KIMBY (Koala in my back yard), to key Queensland politicians to encourage them to take action to stop excessive tree-clearing. So far more than 20,000 KIMBYs have been sent.

The aim is to have more koalas in forests. And not so many in precarious places like this.

The happy ending to this story is that the driver drove several kilometres in reverse (so the koala would not be crushed if it fell) and delivered the animal to (relative) safety.