Aug 20, 2019

Data gold for koala rescue

Data gold for koala rescue Dr Simon Beams, Managing Director and Principal Geologist at Terra Search (RHS) and family watch as a staff member at Currumbin Wildlife Hospital attends to a koala injured during a dog attack.

Geoscience has been employed to help reduce injury and death among koalas in south-east Queensland.

Currumbin Wildlife Hospital (CWH), the county’s and one of the world’s largest rescue and rehabilitation hospitals, is using data collection techniques also used for mineral exploration to pin-point the where, when and how of Koala trauma.

The pilot study has been delivered by Townsville-based geoscience company Terra Search which has focused its professional skills on the last two and a half year’s information collected by CWH.

The answers to better management were in the amount and accuracy of the data, said principal Dr Simon Beams.

“CWH staff and volunteers were too busy with the increasing number of wildlife rescues to look at the wildlife patient data,” Dr Beams said. 

“We work daily with millions of individual samples to deliver results that are set to national auditing standards. In this case we applied the process to validate and optimise the admissions and outcomes data for 1143 koalas. 

“Our in-house team which has scientific skills that cross over into biology and zoology, with staff at the CWH, were able to graphically and spatially present the data.

“The CWH is now better aware of what to expect and are in a position to plan, advise, mitigate and react to Koala trauma.”

Terra Search was proud of its involvement and was hoping to expand this pilot study to cover the 80,000 or so remaining records that have been collected by CWH for a range of animals including turtles, marsupials and birds, said Dr Beams.  

Terrasearch came upon the need through staff member Annette Rebgetz, who volunteers at the hospital. The firm has so far donated $10,000 in human resources in data management and optimisation, GIS services and other resources.

Terra Search is a privately-owned business that has been operating for 32 years from facilities in Townsville, Perth and Bathurst.