[ASC-media] Botanic Gardens postpone flying-fox relocation

Karla Davies Karla.Davies at rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au
Tue Jun 22 07:09:43 CEST 2010

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Tuesday, 22nd June 2010

Botanic Gardens postpone flying-fox relocation

The Botanic Gardens Trust announced today it has reluctantly delayed its flying-fox relocation from Sydney's Royal Botanic Gardens until next year.

Botanic Gardens Trust Executive Director Dr Tim Entwisle said the relocation will be postponed until May-July 2011 due to the inability to tag enough flying foxes and complete potentially required follow up action within the allowed time frame this year.

"The delay is regrettable in that more historic trees will suffer, but it will allow the Trust to assess the results of its research into the dynamics and composition of the camp in the Royal Botanic Gardens, and that of the wider population across Sydney and NSW," Dr Entwisle said.

"This year is unusual in that floods and heavy rain in Queensland have reduced food sources, forcing more flying-foxes to NSW to forage for food.  We're seeing flying-foxes further south and in larger numbers than ever reported before, even down in Tasmania.

"The Trust will continue on with the biggest study ever done on Grey-headed Flying-foxes," he said.

"This year we've captured over 600 flying-foxes. They've been measured, tissue samples taken, and body condition documented. Before release, they have been banded, or if large enough, radio collared.

"We'll learn a lot about about flying-fox behaviour and ecology over the next year, and this information will assist in the relocation. The continued monitoring will further inform and guide the future management of the flying-fox population in the Sydney area," Dr Entwisle said.

At their peak, over 22,000 Grey-headed Flying-foxes camp at the Gardens. So far, they have killed 26 mature trees, 20 palms and many understorey plants. More than 300 additional trees and palms are being damaged by roosting flying-foxes, including rare, scientifically valuable and heritage species. Many of these plants are in a critical state, sustaining severe damage to all or part of their canopies.

Dr Entwisle said that although approval to relocate the flying-foxes from the Gardens is active until 2039, the damage they are causing is extensive, and so the sooner they are relocated the better.

"Another year's delay means the plant collections in Sydney's Royal Botanic Gardens will continue to suffer and more significant trees may be lost.  However, the welfare of both the animals and the plants must be taken into account and, on balance, the delay is the only appropriate decision," he said.

"We ask those people with a passion for our Gardens to appreciate the difficulty, but necessity of this decision. The Trust has been grateful for the supporters of our relocation.

"In addition, I'm grateful for the large number of staff and volunteers that have helped us with our relocation and research," Dr Entwisle said.

Media enquiries: BGT Public Relations  ph. 02 9231 8004, mob. 0427 482 477

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