My Flying Non-Bird

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Wollemi
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My Flying Non-Bird

This is Rex!

He is a 4 and half week old grey headed flying fox. He is in care until he goes to the big creche aviary where he will learn from other flying foxes how to be a flying fox, that is a few months away yet!  He is a joy to care for and I named him Rex because he is king of the flying foxes, or will be one day! Or at least he is pretty sure he will be!

Flying foxes are intelligent, playful, animals that need to develop strong bonds with their foster carer without that bond they will suffer and fail to thrive so as Australia's native animals go they are the most fun to care for because you do not need to worry about imprinting. Once they move into creche they quickly adapt to Flying fox society and learn their place in the pecking order of a colony.

dwatsonbb
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Goodluck Rex, you are a little beauty. Thanks for posting some great pics, and of course for "caring" Wollemi

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

Woko
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Very interesting information, Wollemi. Thanks.

Wollemi
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I must admit that when I became a wildlife carer, bats were not on my list of things for which I wanted to provide care! When the opportunity arose to do a course I thought "It won't hurt to learn about them even if I don't actually care for them!"

Leading up to the course and during the course I discovered how flying foxes feed over a range of up to 50 kms in a single night and during this time they would be visiting many trees in many different stands and thus transfer the pollen further afield than most pollinators do. This aspect means that flying foxes contribute to the health of our eucalyptus forests by maintaining a broad gene pool. Flying foxes drop pollin and seed along the way to and thus contriubute to the habitat maintenance of all other native birds and animals.

The grey headed flying fox is a threatened species and although the general perception is that there are thousands of them, they remain on the threatened species list because they by no means have the numbers they had 200 years ago or even 100 years ago and the number required to maintain the present numbers of flying foxes is on a fine line. The females are three years old before producing their first pup.

The dangers flying foxes face further threaten their species and thousands of flying foxes are lost during 'heat events' which happen when there are three very hot days in a row. Flying foxes are exposed to dying of hunger when there are insufficient native tree blossoms, their main food source, and during the years of low food availability the females that do become pregnant are more likely to miscarry or have premature pups. Loss of habitat, human interference during flying fox camp 'dispersals', vehicle impacts, fishing tackle, barbed wire and fruit tree netting all cause death to flying foxes.

(Rex is doing well and making up for weight lost during his hours waiting for rescue and the first couple fo days of care.)

Woko
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Yet another excellent indication of the need for habitat preservation & restoration.

Wollemi
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Woko,

the Office of Environment and Heritage has a draft Flying Fox Camp Management policy up for comment at the moment. I was so keen to read it and contribute to it until I saw the objectives.

All of the objectives are about 'protecting people from flying foxes' none of them are about protecting the flying foxes. It was heart breaking reading, because although there is mention of their importance etc to the environment and how without their pollination work other native species such as possums, gliders, koalas, and all kinds of birds would be negatively impacted the actual preservation of flying foxes is not one of the objectives of the document. No mention of preventing development near the camps but lots of mention of the possibility of 'dispersement' of camps if they impact the physical or mental well-being of the public. Even though the same people who would complain about the noise of flying foxes would happily sit in big shopping centre which has been recorded at higher decibles than a flying fox camp.

When the government departments who are in charge of our wildlife can not even list the preservation of the wildlife as an objective all really does seem lost.

Woko
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There's lots to despair about, Wollemi. Trouble is it's a wasted emotion, changes nothing for the better & allows environmentally irresponsible government departments to continue on their ragged ways. I trust you'll be writing a submission in response to the document. Who knows, other submitters may have the same view of flying foxes as you.

Wollemi
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I will make a submission, however I hold little hope for anything really positive to come of it, my little experience with government consultations is they are done purely so the government can do as they like but say, 'we consulted the public'. Was involved with consultations where there was an overwhelming sentiment in one direction from the community and that sentiment was in line with NPWS and the end result was. After consulting with the public....... and then followed by whatever suited the developers.....

Woko
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I believe your analysis of government consultations is largely accurate, Wollemi. Nevertheless, making a submission puts governments on notice that there's at least one person out there who doesn't see things the way they do. And you vote. If a number of voters also make submissions then that's a little added pressure on the government. There's at least one activist web site where individuals can formulate their own petitions & thereby gain the support of others. Others use social media to highlight horrible happenings. So there are ways of joining with others to keep hope alive.

However, it's also important to be realistic & determine where you can most productively spend your time & energy. Maybe making submissions isn't the most productive thing you can do. Often acting locally rather than federally or state-wide can be more productive than making submissions. Because of my dismay at the responses I've had from many of my submissions I'm almost at the point of writing my next submission to say what a waste of time it is making submissions because decisions have already been made, almost invariably in favour of the Earth wreckers. I think sometimes I write submissions just to clarify my own thoughts &/or for therapeutic reasons.

But sometimes submissions do work - to an extent.  E.g., plans for a mine on York Peninsula SA has been scaled back due to submissions from local farmers & environment groups. Mind you, whether the mine is in fact scaled back is another matter.

Maybe simply improving habitat on your own patch can have long term benefits as neighbours & passersby see, hear & learn about the results of what you're doing then go & do likewise. I guess it's important to decide just how you can be most effective & often this can only be determined by learning from your own experience. 

Wollemi
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A new member to our household.

This is Regina, Queen of the Black Flying Foxes.

Wollemi
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And Rex is still going strong!

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