VITAL ROLE IN OUR ECOSTYSTEM

Flying-foxes are the largest flying mammal in Australia. They are critical in ensuring the survival of our great Australian Eucalypt forests and the overall health of our ecosystem. They are keystone pollinators of the Australian bush, pollinating forest flowers of over 100 native plants and trees. The pollen sticks to their fur while they’re feeding on the nectar of flowers, and then as they fly off, they are able to pollinate many trees over long distances.

Flying-foxes create new forests by dispersing seeds from the fruit they eat. They are vegetarians that forage on the fruit of native forests and vines as well as the nectar and pollen of native trees, particularly Eucalyptus, Melaleuca and Banksia species. Their excellent vision and keen sense of smell helps them navigate their way over vast landscapes. Each flying-fox can spread up to 60,000 seeds across a 50 kilometre stretch of land in one night.

LEAN CLEAN FLYING MACHINES

Contrary to what you may have heard, flying-foxes are very clean animals that are constantly grooming and cleaning themselves. However, they also communicate by scent. Odours are used to identify camp trees, each other, and also to attract mates. Mothers are able to locate their pups in crèche trees by their scent and calls.

BATTLING FOR SURVIVAL

Flying-fox numbers have decreased dramatically over the last 50 years due to a continual loss of habitat and changing climatic patterns. Grey-headed flying-foxes are now listed as vulnerable to extinction. Urban encroachment, land clearing, agriculture and drought have led to flying-foxes seeking alternative habitat such as patches of bushland in urban areas in which to roost and forage. This has brought them increasingly into conflict with their human neighbours. So now, more than ever, we need to find ways to co-exist with this incredibly important native species.

And it is not just their survival that is at stake. The 2009 Federal Draft Species Recovery Plan for the Grey-headed Flying-fox identified that protection of the species would benefit 6 threat-listed plant species and populations, 57 threat-listed vegetation communities, 26 threat-listed birds and 19 threat-listed mammals.