Do you give a Spectacled Flying Fox?

Eight years ago I was offered half a day’s work in Australia, all expenses paid. That’s not something I was expecting. All I had to do was speak at a conference. Every person I’d heard say they’d been to Australia told me, “You have to go for four weeks, don’t you?” I checked my dairy and managed to postpone all the work I had for three weeks before the conference. I packed my rucksack into my suitcase with suit, shirt and tie and set off. I arrived in Brisbane, checked into a hotel, took out my rucksack, left the suitcase and suit in the hotel and set off backpacking for three weeks.

I loved the people and adventures I had there. Huge lizards, turtles, deadly poisonous plants, the Great Barrier Reef, fire ants and great weather and food.

I travelled to Cairns and, wandering the streets, coast and bars, came upon an amazing sight; a tree entirely covered in megabats. And when I say mega, I mean mega. These enormous Spectacled Flying Foxes were just hanging there in the middle of the city we’ve built around them.

I was so thrilled to see them, I was beside myself with joy.

They’re a vital part of the forest ecosystem, eating fruit and pollinating flowers and dispersing seeds as they fly and forage and return home to their communal roosts. The forest exists because of them.

The occasional bit of noise or excrement, and damage to orchards, led to them being officially persecuted. Under Australia’s Nature Conservation (Wildlife Management) Regulation 2006, local government, may: destroy a flying-fox roost; drive away, or attempt to drive away, a flying-fox from a flying-fox roost; disturb a flying-fox in a flying-fox roost. That means torturing them with huge, disturbing, precisely directed sound, including alarm calls, bangs and white noise. It’s something the CIA would be delighted with.

Any euphemism-hunters would be delighted with the title: Ecologically sustainable management of flying-fox roosts, Nature Conservation Act 1992 here; the Flying Foxes, less so.

The methods used to torture and kill them have included: full canopy netting of their roosts, tunnel netting, smell of carbide, the sound of bangers, clangers, poppers, bombers and sirens, flashing strobe lights and bright light grids, electrified wires above the trees combined with droppers hanging down the side, scare guns, chemicals to make the animals sick or disoriented, others to give a bad taste, poisons and shooting of early arriving flying foxes (the ‘scouts’) prior to the entire flock coming to feed.

Humans really do lack humanity.

Flying Foxes - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

In 2008, the Spectacled Flying Fox, Pteropus conspicillatus, was classified as of “least concern” by the IUCN.

That’s now changed. Why? The world is in the middle of an ecological crisis caused by climate destruction. Global heating by greenhouse gases means Australia is experiencing extreme temperatures, wildfires and droughts.

We’re destroying the natural world while leaders and followers are in denial of the clearest science it’s possible to have: burning fossil fuels is heating the Earth and destroying the climate.

Here’s what The Guardian had to say: “The federal government has upgraded the threatened status of a flying fox after almost a third of its population was wiped out in Queensland’s recent heatwave.”

That’s 20,000 Flying Foxes which dropped down dead out of the trees in just a few days from heat stroke and dehydration. There were hundreds of orphaned youngsters.

The problem facing Australia is that its economy is dependent upon coal. Here’s The Guardian’s article: “Coalmining in Australia by the nation’s six biggest coal producers ultimately results in more greenhouse gas emissions each year than the entire domestic economy.”

In today’s news on the BBC: “Australia has experienced its hottest day on record with the national average temperature reaching a high of 40.9C (105.6F).”

Wild fires threaten entire ecosystems and cities. Temperatures are making life unbearable and land uninhabitable.

Massive Mildura dust storm leaves Victorian town ‘unliveable’ amid 40C heat.Residents say such storms now occur on a weekly basis, as topsoil from drought-ravaged farms is blown through the town.

Hundreds of koalas feared burned alive in out-of-control bushfire near Port Macquarie. “Blaze around Lake Innes and Lake Cathie in northern NSW has destroyed more than 2,000 hectares and spread smoke haze to Sydney.”

Australia’s extreme heat is sign of things to come, scientists warn. “Hottest month ever shows temperatures rising faster than predicted, say climate experts.”

We’re destroying the natural world while leaders and followers are in denial of the clearest science it’s possible to have: burning fossil fuels is heating the Earth and destroying the climate.

Nature is only just hanging on by its toenails. Denial of climate breakdown by unrestricted fossil fuel use makes my blood boil. Unfortunately it’s doing the same to Spectacled Flying Foxes. I’m a witness to the extinction.

Click here for more from The Guardian:

Queensland Flying Fox Species - The Guardian
Spectacled Flying Fox declared Endangered - The Guardian

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