Saturday, 13 December 2008

Flying foxes

In response to the St George and Sutherland Leader story on the local council rejecting our request for areas within the region to be available if the flying foxes are relocated from the Royal Botanic Gardens, I wrote the following letter:

"While it is true that the Botanic Gardens Trust has applied to relocate its camp of flying-foxes from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sutherland Shire residents should rest assured that sensitive areas such as the existing campsite at Kareela were not listed in our application as preferred sites.

Our original list identified more than 200 sites within the Sydney metropolitan region where these highly migratory animals might relocate. This list was sent to land managers (including local councils) to confirm which of these sites may be suitable for a flying-fox camp (where flying-foxes gather to sleep and breed during the day).

The Trust's proposal is to move the flying-foxes on from any places considered to be inappropriate for a camp within the constraints of licences issued. The technique proposed was successful in Melbourne, and was effective in Sydney between 1992 and 1997 (after which the Trust mistakenly stopped disturbing those few flying foxes that returned, thinking the population would remain at a few hundred).

The Grey-headed Flying-fox is listed as a vulnerable species due to its declining overall population, and it is important we help them find suitable alternative campsites if they leave the Royal Botanic Gardens."

The story was generally accurate, and I was interviewed as part of its preparation, but I needed to correct some of the information taken directly, and misinterpreted, from the relocation licence application.

If you want to find out more about flying fox relocation proposal, including information on why the trees in our living collections are important and why the relocation is necessary, see: http://www.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/welcome_to_bgt/feature_stories/questions_and_answers.

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