The latest chapter in the saga of the botanic gardens flying fox relocation contains both good and bad news for these vulnerable displaced creatures. Recent record temperatures across Sydney and the Illawarra have resulted in the deaths of 8000-10000 individuals, mainly pups born this season. This is a massive blow that represents the loss of up to 2.5% of the total world population of the species, and shows quite starkly the dangers we face as uncontrolled CO2 emissions warm our planet and make such heat waves all the more common.
On the other hand, many of the bats relocated from the botanic gardens last year are finding new homes more welcoming than expected. Prior to the relocation a range of locations around Sydney were listed as being ‘unsuitable’ for housing more bats and it was stated that bats roosting in these areas would be relocated again. One of these locations was Centennial Park, which was worrying as a great many bats quickly took up residence here after they were forced out of the botanic gardens.
However Centennial Park and the people who visit seem very happy with the bats, which have proved to be something of an attraction to the parklands. They are proving so popular that the non-profit Centennial Parklands Foundation are hoping to upgrade park infrastructure and start a monitoring program to protect the bats and educate the public about this often misunderstood species.
The work they propose isn’t cheap, and I’ve fought hard to try to secure them a grant from the City, which was initially rejected but has now been moved onto a ‘waiting list’ for funds to become available. However the fact that the organisation are even trying to get this work done is a big step forward from where we were a year ago when it was looking like the bats would be barred from most of the suitable habitat nearby. After losing a home and suffering through heat waves our grey-headed flying foxes need all the help they can get.
Image by Nick Edards