Kailis Wild documents Kangaroo Island wildlife rescue mission in his 'The 99th Koala' book

Arborist and conservationist Kailis Wild has documented his involvement in the amazing wildlife rescue operation that took place on Kangaroo Island in the weeks after the devastating bushfires.

His new book "The 99th Koala" has just been published with striking images and a heartfelt and emotional description of how the intense operation impacted his life back then and even today.

Kai, as he is known, is still fighting to save koalas, but this time from development back on the east coast of Australia.

He is currently working with the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital and also speaking out about the relaxation of development regulations and the threat to koalas, which could be extinct in the wild on the mainland within 50 years.

"Saving koala habitat is more efficient and effective than trying to respond to ones that are injured," he said.

"I've got my experience and platform built during the rescue to be a voice for the koalas and an advocate for the conservation of our bushland."

Kai was part of a dedicated group of rescuers, including Kangaroo Island locals, who brought in 648 injured koalas from the burned timber plantation and natural scrub.

The koalas were brought to the emergency triage centre at the KI Wildlife Park at Parndana run by Sam and Dana Mitchell.

"It was an incredible effort by everyone involved in the rescue," Sam said. "And certainly if we didn't have someone like Kai with his climbing skills, a lot more koalas would have died."

In his book, he pays tribute to the work of the Mitchells, and also the KI Wildlife Network, local veterinarian Felicity Stoeckeler and the Karran family.

The Karran family also worked tirelessly in the weeks after the fires, bringing in 148 koalas in to be treated. They have now built their own wildlife refuge.

Koala numbers on KI were disputed even before the the fires, but Sam believes up to 80 per cent of the Island 50,000 koalas were killed in the fires.

Koalas were introduced to the Island in the 1920s but numbers exploded with the widespread planting of blue gum plantations, about 90 per cent of which burned in the summer's fires.

After hearing there were injured koalas on KI who could only be reached by a tree climber, Kai dropped everything to go and help.

He drove 1500 kilometres from NSW to volunteer and seven weeks later, he had crowdfunded $65,000, been involved with massive rescued effort, forming a special bond with a baby koala - Joey Kai.

His social media posts gained tens of thousands of views and press attention around Australia and overseas.

The cover of "The 99th Koala - Rescue and Reslience on Kangaroo Island" by Kailis Wild.

The cover of "The 99th Koala - Rescue and Reslience on Kangaroo Island" by Kailis Wild.

Now his book "The 99th Koala - Rescue and Resilience on Kangaroo Island" shares that experience, in words and pictures, and introduces us to some of the koalas of Kangaroo Island.

Sometimes tragic, sometimes hopeful, Kai's story above all commemorates our unique wildlife, and demonstrates the power of one person trying to make a difference.

The good news is that 230 rescue koalas have now been released onto the 130-acre bush block near Parndana purchased specifically for this purpose by the Mitchells.

Just today, Friday, November 20, they released their single biggest group of 10 koalas, and yet others are still being bottle fed back at the widlife park.

Koalas who survived to now are doing well, although there are the usual car accidents and endemic disease bringing in casualties.

Kai missed the release of Baby Kai, the 99th koala, several months back but kept up to date through the wildlife park's social media.

He said he would love to come back to Kangaroo Island and for the rescuers to have a bit of a reunion.


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