ABANDONED by his mother and ridden with conjunctivitis, little Riley was down on his luck when koala carer Trudy Timbs stumbled across him.
Riley is one of dozens of orphaned, sick and injured koalas that find themselves in the care of the Ipswich Koala Protection Society and Moggill Koala Hospital every year.
The destruction of habitat is the primary cause leading to Ipswich's koalas finding themselves being attacked by dogs, hit by cars or succumbing to diseases.
Riley was just lucky that he was rescued by Ms Timbs in February this year.
With the help of the Moggill hospital, he has been treated for his conjunctivitis and nursed to the point where he is ready to go back into his home territory on his own.
Ipswich Koala Protection Society member and hospital volunteer Maureen Hall did the honours of releasing the eager little 18-month-old yesterday.
"Riley came into care weighing about 2kg. We found him out near one of the old mines in the Ebenezer area," Ms Hall said.
"He was in reasonably good condition, apart from having conjunctivitis in both eyes, but his mother didn't want a bar of him."
Riley bounded up the nearest gum tree once Ms Hall opened his cage door, re-joining one of the largest known koala populations in south-east Queensland.
Koalas that have been nursed back to health must be released within 5km of the spot where they came from.
Variations in trees can cause illness in koalas that aren't placed back in their original habitat.
"Loss of habitat is the biggest thing causing death and injury from car strikes and dog attacks," Ms Hall said.