'We need to make them survive': Australian rescues flying-foxes suffering from habitat loss


Janine Davies has nearly 50 flying foxes living with her.

From feeding bottles to cleaning, the part-time rescuer rarely gets a good night sleep lately.

Australia's raging forest fires have destroyed the habitat of many native species, including these grey-headed flying-foxes.

They're considered 'vulnerable' because their population is already dwindling due to threats from land clearing activities, which the fires have exacerbated.

Davies, the coordinator of Shoalhaven Bats Clinic and Sanctuary, has rescued five times more bats in the past three months compared to the same period last year.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) COORDINATOR OF 'SHOALHAVEN BAT CLINIC AND SANCTUARY', JANINE DAVIES SAYING:

"It's basically catastrophic. I mean the fire has just literally gone down the whole east coast of Australia and they just continuing to burn, I was shocked that all the area I collect blossoms for these little guys is gone, it's nothing but burnt sticks."

Usually one fruit bat will spend up to four-and-a-half-months in rehabilitation at the bat clinic before release back into the wild.

But due to the lack of food stocks caused by the fires, Davies is taking more time to research the best release location, fearing that she could send them back into another crisis.


The Australian government said it will provide up to 50 million Australian dollars - that's 34 million US dollars - in a wildlife recovery program focusing on the survival of the country's native animals.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) COORDINATOR OF 'SHOALHAVEN BAT CLINIC AND SANCTUARY', JANINE DAVIES SAYING:

"People have got to not be ignorant, we don't go out and pollinate forests, these guys do, and we need to do all we can to make them survive"

But if the population of the flying-foxes declines further, it could ultimately impact other endangered species living in the forests because they are a key pollinator for many trees including eucalyptus which is the sole food source for koalas.