Pambula is going batty

The Pambula flying-fox camp has been filling up since February.

They fly in low, exhausted after a night of foraging, just as the sky begins to get lighter. 

Over the last few weeks, more and more grey-headed flying-foxes have been arriving.

They are looking for food: flowering eucalypts and rainforest fruits.

They search up and down the east coast of Australia, the only place in the world where they are found.

In a year when there was a mass flowering of bloodwoods, about 1998, 60,000 arrived in Pambula. The camp site has probably been used for hundreds of years.

We still do not understand flying-fox communication over such large distances.

Since then, the yearly counts of grey-headed flying-foxes (which cover Victoria, NSW and Queensland camps, the only places where they are found) have shown a horrific crash in overall numbers.

Temperatures over 40 degrees kill them. Clearing of rainforests and flowering eucalypts means that both their roosting places and food sources are gone (and eucalypts rely on them for pollination and seed dispersal).

The Camp at Pambula is protected by a Voluntary Conservation Agreement over almost 34 acres.

Being deep in a gully with thick bush, it is also protected by tiny guardians, leeches and ticks.

For 10 years there was a flying-fox hospital and creche there, where orphaned ones and those injured by loose netting over fruit trees (netting pulled taut is alright), barbed wire, electrocution and starvation were nursed. Those that recovered enough to be able to fly released themselves from there.

Those who recovered, but were unable to fly, stayed.

They have now moved to Potoroo Palace, where they watch visitors with their bright intelligent eyes, and visitors love to talk with them.

Story submitted by Potoroo Palace

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