Threatened fruit bats face death penalty
The Royal Botanic Gardens Trust has proposed a highly controversial and unrealistic plan to use noise harassment to evict a colony of threatened fruit bats from the gardens.
A colony of Grey-headed Flying-foxes, listed as “vulnerable” under the NSW Threatened Species Act and Commonwealth legislation, is subject for removal. Without a designated habitat for the colony to relocate to, this ill-conceived plan threatens not only the serenity of the community, but also the species itself.
After the NSW government signed off on the proposal, the Trust awaits Commonwealth approval before moving forward. The plan, which uses loud industrial music disturbances to provoke the bat colony to relocate, could be implemented anytime between May and July 2010.
Leading bat expert Dr. Kerry Parry-Jones of the University of Sydney questions the tactics.
“I highly doubt this plan will work. The likely scenario is that the bats will relocate into the backyards of people’s homes and cause community disturbances of great proportions.”
The Trust has expressed concerns that the bats are destroying rare trees and plants in the gardens. According to the Royal Botanic Garden’s website, 18 trees have been lost and more than 300 plants including trees have been affected.
The cruel use of a “sound out”, as experts call it, is not only unreliable, but extremely expensive, estimated to cost around $125,000. Though some, like Dr. Parry-Jones, believes those costs are deflated.
“Historical evidence suggests that the bats are likely to return once the disturbances have stopped, which means ongoing measures will need to be taken,” says Dr. Parry-Jones. “It will be an expensive process, not just a one time deal.”
A similar relocation attempt in Maclean in Northern NSW has been deemed a failure, according to Clarence Environment Centre. Since the plan was implemented in 1999, the colony of Grey-headed Flying- foxes has continually returned to the Maclean Rainforest Reserve and caused community outrage by inhabiting surrounding neighborhoods as well as local schools.
If the bats return to the Botanic Gardens, $125,000 will be wasted. Dr. Parry-Jones suggests money would be spent more efficiently creating a rainforest gully close to the gardens.
“A space needs to be allocated for the bats to live in close proximity to the Botanic Gardens because it has the largest food supply for kilometers around. This could be a win/win situation for both the Trust and the bats as it would a tremendous tourist attraction.”
The Commonwealth should not approve relocation plans because it will not only disturb what is a tranquil community, but also jeopardize the existence of a vulnerable species. More importantly, evidence shows that noise disturbance fails to effectively transfer bat colonies, and this costly attempt will likely result in cost over-runs.
Preservation of animals and the environment should be weighed heavily in all aspects of legislation and plans set forth by the government. Before the decision is made to relocate the colony, we need to consider both the economic feasibility and the harm we’re doing to the species and the environment.
Tags: Royal Botanic Gardens, Grey-headed Flying- foxes, animal rights, fruit bats, threatened speciesfruit bats, Grey-headed Flying- foxes, Royal Botanic Gardens, threatened species