Welcome to the second e-newsletter of The Bat Hospital



To celebrate the Visitor Centre's first birthday, and awarding of Advanced Ecotourism Accreditation.

Open Day on Saturday/Sunday 28/29 August 2010, from 3-6pm. Look for the sign at Carrington Road, 6 kms out of Atherton towards Herberton. Entry is by gold coin donation.

The accreditation process with Ecotourism Australia is quite onerous, but we feel the credibility it gives us with visitors and other tourism operators makes it worthwhile. It is an online application process followed by on-site inspections.

This was an excellent day organised by Cairns Regional Council for 13 August 2010. Notable speakers were Drs. Hume Field, David Westcott, Peggy Eby and Rodney van de Rees. Speakers from 3 local government bodies in Queensland highlighted different approaches taken to managing flying fox camps in their residential areas. The prevailing opinion was that the relocation of flying fox camps should only be considered under extreme circumstances, after extensive evaluation and collaboration, and with an open-ended budget.

Grey-headed flying foxes (GHFF) are currently under extreme stress with a starvation event throughout most of their range. Large numbers are coming into care very underweight, and in their desperation for food many have travelled thousands of kms beyond their normal range, as far as Adelaide. Melbourne reported record numbers of GHFFs this winter, over double the usual numbers. Farmers in northern NSW are reporting crop losses for the first time from flying foxes foraging on ripe coffee beans. In Brisbane over 1400 flying foxes have some into care this year, 90 of them from dog attacks. Like the Spectacled flying fox, they are listed federally as vulnerable to extinction. They are also under pressure from increasingly regular heat stress events when temperatures go over 42 degrees. There is a lot of pressure to ban the shooting of GHFFs in NSW, to bring it into line with other states.

We have 8 GHFFs in permanent care, all of whom have been retired from zoos. One had been on its own for 7 years before coming to us.

Steve Parish

The paraly
sis tick season is nearly upon us again. We have an excellent number of live-in volunteers booked in, many of whom are staying for 2 months. The first is Anneke, an ecologist from New Zealand. We welcome back a number of volunteers from previous years, Abie and Hilary from the UK, Steve and Lyn from Australia. Last year the season began in early September and didn't finish until well into January. Each year we are better equipped for this massive rescue effort. A Caring for Country grant (see below) will help meet some of this year's costs, as will a sponsorship from a supporter in Melbourne for the tick anti-toxin we require.

We are very pleased with our first tourist season. We get a lot of friendly visitors who show great delight in meeting the bats so close, and then great interest in learning about them. We find there is little interest in learning from the interpretive panels until visitors have met the bats. The environmental maxim that people need to love them to want to save them is usually true. The 8 minute video we show about the work of the bat hospital is always very popular.

The Visitor Centre has attracted a number of student groups recently, from: School for Field Studies in Yungaburra, Ecotourism Faculty at James Cook University in Cairns, and New Paltz in New York. We've also had visits from a birthday party of 10 year old boys and a troupe of Girl Guides from Malanda.

We received a small federal government grant for administration in June, and are now applying for a Caring for Country Community Action grant to update Wildlife Friendly Fencing educational resources into a more comprehensive information pack. We will work with Bat Conservation and Rescue Qld, and others in the flying fox community to develop a range of educational materials that are themed by using the one design team. We are coordinating with South-east Queensland Catchments, Burnett Mary Regional Group and Biosecurity Queensland who are also developing educational materials on flying foxes.
We received a Caring for Country Community Action grant earlier this year for a project titled Supporting Spectacled Flying-foxes as Natural Resource Managers in the Wet Tropics.

We are extremely fortunate to receive generous monthly financial support from the Atherton District Animal Welfare Society. ADAWS members will meet at the Bat Hospital in September for a tour of the Visitor Centre. They run the Animal Refuge in Mareeba, and support a number of local wildlife rescue groups with funds raised mainly through their shop in Atherton.

The project is about to do its fourth printing of the brochure, with the following partners: WPSQ, WIRES, Molonglo Catchment, and Tweed Shire Council. Generous donations from the Thorsborne Trust and Australian Wildife Supplies will support the print run. We are changing the front cover image from a Greater Glider to a Spectacled flying fox.

Photo taken at Melbourne Museum of diffferent designs of barbed wire.


photo:asleigh johnson

Deborah and Natasha visited the Bat Hospital for 5 days earlier this month. Deborah is a Professor of Social Inclusion from Macquarie University, and Natasha an ethnographic film-maker. Both are anthropologists interested in gaining a wider and deeper understanding of the values, motivations, passions, and moral reasoning of people who are working to protect flying foxes. They will be interviewing others in the bat community and producing a book, film and scientific papers on this topic.

We usually connect with Biosecurity Queensland staff when they fly to the Atherton Tablelands about once month for research into Hendra virus. They work in the new Queensland Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases. Plastic sheets are put out under the colonies to collect flying fox urine. They collect from which ever camp has the most flying foxes, so it is usually Mareeba in winter and Lakeside or Tolga the rest of the year. Their findings to date suggest that Hendra virus is intermittently present in far north Queensland, as elsewhere.
Photo: Debbie Melville, Queensland Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases

Two of this team of scientists recently went to Christmas Island to research the endemic flying fox. The Christmas Island flying fox (Pteropus melanotus) is very unusual: it forages in the midafternoon, riding the updraft wind currents, to swirl and glide to feeding sites.

photo:Deb Melville

We have a representative on the Combined ABLV and Bat Health focus group of the Australian Wildlife Health Network. This group meets by teleconference every 2 months or so.The AWHN mission is to promote and facilitate collaborative links across Australia in the investigation and management of wildlife health in support of human and animal health, biodiversity and trade. There have been a number of occasions now where we have been able to tap into the expertise at the AWHN; twice with cases of cancer in flying foxes, and once for autopsy of a freetail microbat.

We are also represented on a small group of flying fox carers who belong to a teleconference group chaired by Dr. Janine Barrett from Biosecurity Queensland. The first meeting was 12 July 2010. The role of the group is to work with Biosecurity Queensland to help them provide quality information about bats to veterinarians and members of the public. It also works as a conduit in reverse, for Biosecurity Queensland to provide us with up to date information.

Note the tip of this bat's ear is crusted, commonly happens to captive flying foxes in cold weather.

Dental disease is a common problem for microbats in long-term care, especially freetail bats. We had a recent outbreak of this problem. The disease is highly contagious between bats. We had an oral surgeon visiting the hospital at the time who was able to give us advice, as well as what we found on the Batworld website.
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