09/19/2012 11:06 am ET

Students Rescue Koala From Mine Shaft In Australia After It Falls Twice (VIDEO)

A group of Victorian university students rescued a koala that fell down a mine shaft... twice.

The third-year University of Ballarat students, who were part of an outdoor education class, were on an excursion in the Victorian goldfields in Lal Lal State Forest when they passed the mine shaft and saw the koala trapped in the 14-foot hole, ninemsn reports.

Luke Parker, one of the students, was concerned about the koala's condition, since they were unclear just how long the animal had been stuck. "We weren’t sure how long she had been down there, so we threw her some leaves to eat, which it was very grateful for," he told the Herald Sun.

The students stuck a large branch down the mine shaft for the koala to climb. As the group watched the rescue, the unthinkable happened: The koala fell again after trying to jump onto a nearby tree.

Luckily, the koala climbed the branch once more time and finally made it onto solid ground.

"We were so relieved that he made it out, then also really excited and proud of what we had accomplished," Parker told the Herald Sun.

The University of Ballarat Outdoor Education department believes the koala may have been trapped down the shaft for days, according to the video's YouTube description.

Koalas have had a difficult time at survival in Australia over the past century.

Before Europeans settled Australia over two centuries ago, there were 10 million koalas living in a 1500-mile stretch of eucalyptus forests, National Geographic reports. However, in the early 20th century they were killed for their fur. In the late 20th century, urbanization took its toll.

“Koalas are getting caught in fences and dying, being killed by dogs, struck by vehicles, even dying simply because a homeowner cut down several eucalyptus trees in his backyard,” Deidré de Villiers, one of the chief koala researchers at the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management, told National Geographic. She believes that koalas and humans can coexist “if developers get on board with koala-sensitive designs."