Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia

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Flying-fox relocation

  • Since June 2012, as a result of the relocation, there have been no grey-headed flying-foxes roosting in the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney

  • Satellite tracking has shown that the flying-foxes have moved to numerous colonies both within the Sydney region and across the east coast, as was observed prior to the relocation commencing
  • Pre-dawn noise to deter the flying-foxes re-establishing and monitoring will continue.

The Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust flying-fox relocation program has been approved by both Federal and State governments after a long consultation process that took into account scientific and animal welfare considerations. It is a humane and safe program that will give the Garden a chance to recover.

After commencing on 4 June 2012 the relocation took less than two weeks to deter the flying-foxes from roosting within the Garden. The method used involved intermittent recorded noise being played within the central areas of the Garden to disturb the flying-foxes. The noise disturbance is limited to 75 minutes within a 24-hour period, including up to 45 minutes before dawn and up to 30 minutes around sunset. After the initial two weeks noise made during the afternoon was ceased, but pre-dawn noise continues each day to deter the flying-foxes from re-establishing roosting within the Garden.

The flying-foxes continue to feed in and around the Garden on fruit and pollen and nectar from flowers at night, flying up to 35 km from their roosts (colonies) to find suitable food.

Over the past 20 years, flying-fox roosting activities have caused extensive damage to valuable heritage trees in the Royal Botanic Garden, with more than 33 trees and 33 palms already lost and several hundred more trees and plants damaged, 60 critically.

The strict approval conditions require that the flying-foxes relocate to suitable locations away from homes. If they settle in unacceptable locations, the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust is committed to moving them on from there, in consultation with the landowner, using the appropriate disturbance method used in the Garden.

The relocation program has also involved the most comprehensive research, monitoring and scientific study believed to have ever been undertaken on the species. The research is expected to contribute to the long-term conservation of flying foxes and includes monitoring of the condition of the flying-foxes within the Garden colony and the movements of banded and satellite-tagged animals.

Monitoring conducted over the past two years has shown that flying-foxes move readily between existing colonies across Sydney and they are most likely to relocate to areas they are familiar with. 

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