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New South Wales: Quoll Headquarters - 164 hectares - Steve Haslam

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Victoria: Witchwood - 9.1 hectares - Jill Redwood

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Queensland: The Roost - 39.75 hectares - Lynn Childs

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Tasmania: Lyn and Geoff's Refuge - 10 hectares - Lyn and Geoff Murray

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Western Australia: Tippaburra Valley - 2470 hectares - Buddy Kent

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New South Wales: Falls Forest Retreat - 80 hectares - Mary White

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Victoria: Wingura - 2.5 hectares - Suzanne and John Brandenberger

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Queensland: Cooper Creek Wilderness - 66.74 hectares - Prue Hewett

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Grey-headed and Spectacled Flying-foxes PDF Print E-mail

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Grey-headed flying-fox and pup in flight - Nick Edards

 

Humane Society International and the Wildlife Land Trust have long been involved with flying-fox conservation in Australia: from our nomination that led to the grey-headed flying-fox becoming a nationally threatened species in 2001, to more recent work in elevating the conservation status of the spectacled flying-fox, and our ongoing involvement in the NSW Flying-fox Consultative Committee.

 

Listed as threatened under federal and various state laws, grey-headed flying-foxes are Australia's only endemic flying-fox and one of the largest bats in the world. They weigh 600-1000 grams with a length of 23-29 centimetres and, as per the name, their heads are covered by light grey fur, with a collar of orange encircling the neck.

 

A diverse diet includes nectar and pollen from eucalypts, melaleucas and banksias, and although they range from around Rockhampton in Queensland to southern Victoria, only a small proportion is used at any time due to selective foraging. Hence patterns of occurrence and abundance vary widely between seasons and years.

 

Spectacled flying-foxes are so named due to the distinctive strawcoloured fur surrounding their eyes, and they typically have a length of 15-24 centimetres and weigh 500-850 grams. Their Australian distribution is restricted to north-eastern Queensland and, while long assumed to feed primarily on rainforest species, they regularly feed on a variety of species including eucalypts in tall open forests, tropical wood land and savanna ecosystems. Although currently listed as Vulnerable federally, a Humane Society International nomination has prioritised an Endangered assessment.

 

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Orphaned spectacled flying-fox in care at WLT sanctuary Nightwings Rainforest Centre - Dave Pinson

 

Flying-foxes' high mobility makes them important pollinators, vital to the reproduction, regeneration and evolution of forest eco systems. They pollinate over far larger distances than birds or insects, and are critical for coastal species only receptive to pollination at night.

 

Flying-fox camps can be viewed negatively by the public due to exaggerated health concerns, however ineffective management options such as dispersals are inappropriate due to significant stress caused. Such options also ignore that the flying-foxes roost where they do for a reason, having had habitat decimated by urban and agricultural development.

 

An attraction to orchards has seen flying-foxes victim to crop protection shooting for decades, but this practice recently stopped when in July a NSWgovernment commitment, tied to an orchard netting subsidy program, halted licenced shooting for crop protection.  This practical solution has takenmany years ofwork, with HSI/WLT staff playing key roles.

 

In August the Queensland Government reclassified spectacled flying-foxes as Vulnerable, meaning damage mitigation permits for crop protection shooting can no longer be granted. Things may be finally looking up for flying-foxes.

 

Keeping our eyes open

The Department of Environment’s Referral guideline for management actions in grey-headed and spectacled flying-fox camps, a long-awaited document that sets rules for flying-fox camp management, was released during Wildlife Lands 16 preparation. Despite an intention of ensuring no significant impacts on flying-foxes due to camp management actions, we will be scrutinising it.

 

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