Melbourne’s flying night gardeners

Conservation status:
The Grey-headed Flying-fox is considered to be a single, mobile population with individuals distributed across Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT. Accepted population estimates sit somewhere between 320,000 to 435,000, representing a 90%+ reduction since British colonisation. With continued population decline (and with low population growth rates even if optimal conditions existed), this species is listed as:
i) ‘Vulnerable’ under the IUCN red list,
ii) ‘Vulnerable’ under the Australian Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (1999) and
iii) Threatened’ under the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988

Key threats:
Key threats include:
– Destruction and degradation of foraging and roosting habitats over large areas
– Conflict with people, including deliberate camp disturbance
– Heat stress events
– Entanglement in back yard fruit-tree netting
– Entanglement in barbed wire
– Electrocution in power lines

Most don’t know:
Most people are generally unaware that:
– GHFFs are vegetarian
– GHFFs are highly intelligent, social, and caring mammals that breast feed their young
– GHFFs are a vital ‘keystone’ species – meaning that many other species (both plants and animals) rely upon them for their survival and well being
– GHFFs are vulnerable/threatened to significant population decline
– GHFFs are regularly maimed and killed by the largely preventable impacts of inappropriate back yard fruit tree netting and barbed wire
– A significant amount of work goes into rescuing and caring for GHFFs caught in nets/barbed wire
– In Melbourne, during summer at dusk, they create one of nature’s great spectacles – 50,000 flying mammals heading out over a major city at night, looking for dinner!


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