When WIRES Mid South Coast volunteer Shelley Clarke was called to a Tomakin Road property to rescue a suspected common brushtail possum on October 25, she discovered a much more elusive species.
There on the ground, at the base of a tree, was a vulnerable yellow-bellied glider, looking extremely unwell.
"She was emaciated - very sick and near death," Ms Clarke said.
Ms Clarke had nursed an endangered southern greater glider back to health after the Black Summer bushfires, but had never cared for a yellow-bellied glider, which were only listed as vulnerable in NSW in March 2022.
"I reached out to another local rescue group to compare their care arrangements [for the species].
"And they told me they had a juvenile female in care."
Just five days before Ms Clarke rescued the adult female glider, a driver on Tomakin Road spotted a 6-month-old glider in serious danger.
"The baby was actually on the road nearly getting run over, her tail was stuck in tar on the road," she said.
Ms Clarke said it was the heroic efforts of the woman who stopped to save the animal which gave the vulnerable marsupial a second chance at life.
"The local people are the ones who are rescuing them - we're just doing the supportive care."
It became clear that the two gliders were mother and baby.
Ms Clarke said the pair had most likely fallen sick after becoming displaced while moving through the environmental corridor stretching from Tomakin to Surf Beach.
Just like the endangered southern greater glider, yellow-bellied glider populations on the NSW South Coast have struggled since the Black Summer bushfires.
The species is one of just six Australian native marsupials that can glide. Their large patagium or connective tissue between their hands and feet allow them to glide up to 120 metres.
"That's why corridors of trees are really important, so they can move through [the bush].
"If we don't maintain those natural corridors when they move through then we obstruct their movement."
Ms Clarke said the pair might have been left behind by their family group, which can include up to half a dozen gliders.
She said there was very little information available on their population in the Eurobodalla and the broader South Coast after the bushfires. Large swathes of their habitat were destroyed by fire, and are now being affected by drought.
According to the NSW Office of Environment & Heritage, the species' key threats are the loss, fragmentation and degradation of habitat, climate change and disease.
Ms Clarke said the adult glider was severely dehydrated and lethargic and the joey had a serious ear infection.
"Mum had six paralysis ticks and she was overburdened with fleas.
"She needed injections to rehydrate."
Ms Clarke has been caring for the pair around-the-clock since their rescue. One of her biggest achievements was successfully reintroducing them and watching them snuggle and play.
"They bonded straight away, it's been really lovely to see. When we moved the joey in, the mother became more energetic and we saw a definite improvement in their mood.
"They were in such poor condition, we didn't think they'd survive."
In two to three weeks time, WIRES will release the mother and joey back into the bush near Tomakin to reunite them with their family group.