Botanic Garden bats may yet return
Humane Society International (HSI) today issued a cautionary warning that the early reduction in the number of grey-headed flying-foxes in Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens cannot be taken as any sign of success. This warning followed reports that the ongoing efforts to disperse the flying-foxes in Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens appear to have greatly reduced the number of flying-foxes roosting there.
“The total number of flying-foxes in the Sydney region is much lower than would normally be expected at this time of year and we are not surprised that the bats have already moved away from the unfavourable conditions created by the ongoing dispersal efforts in the Royal Botanic Gardens” said Alexia Wellbelove of Humane Society International. “The real test for determining whether the dispersal has been successful will be once large numbers of flying-foxes return to the Sydney region later this year to an environment where one of the most significant pieces of roosting habitat is no longer available to them, forcing them to find alternate roosts.”
“It is essential that the ongoing dispersal program is conducted with the welfare of the flying-foxes as its central aim” Ms Wellbelove continued. “HSI will continue to monitor this closely to ensure the minimal possible impact on this important species.”
Humane Society International has long opposed the dispersal of flying-foxes in Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens due to concerns that the importance of the habitat provided by the Gardens was not given sufficient priority during the approval process. The site is considered to be critical roosting habitat for the flying-foxes and is an important breeding location.
The native grey-headed flying-fox is listed as vulnerable to extinction under both state and federal legislation. Recent studies reveal the species is being pushed closer to extinction with every death due to a combination of loss of habitat, declined breeding success and increased mortality rates.