Flying school is in for orphaned baby bats

ON MEND: Bat Conservation and Rescue will soon be releasing young flying-foxes back into the wild.
ON MEND: Bat Conservation and Rescue will soon be releasing young flying-foxes back into the wild. David Nielsen

IT was a miracle they survived.

More than 400 orphaned flying foxes across the region are being cared for after thousands of the winged creatures died in an extreme heatwave last month.

It is believed about 100,000 native flying foxes in south-east Queensland died as a result of the high temperatures.

Colonies which were severely affected included those in Boonah, Yamanto, Camira, Queens Park in Ipswich and Pan Pacific Peace Gardens in Redbank.

Deaths included grey-haired flying foxes - which are on the vulnerable to extinction species list - and black flying foxes.

But while many adult flying foxes perished in the heat, their babies were able to still suckle milk and get that extra hydration which allowed them to live longer.

Camira bat carer Connie Kerr was among the volunteer rescuers overwhelmed with the mammoth task of collecting dead bodies and tending to survivors.

"We spent about six days sorting through dead bodies, checking each one to see if it was female and that it didn't have a baby attached," she said. "There were a lot of colonies though where we could just not retrieve because they were too high in trees, it was horrible knowing there were ones we couldn't save."

Since then, volunteer rescuers have spent the past month helping nurse the orphaned animals to heath at numerous bat rehabilitation facilities.

The bats are currently learning to fly as they build up their muscles and will soon assimilate back into the wild.

Ms Kerr, who is also a vice president of Bat Conservation and Rescue Queensland, said the initial release of the flying foxes would be this Sunday.

Males from the nearest colony will teach them where to find their natural food; pollen nectar and fruit.

"They've got to reach a certain size and an appropriate level of flight ability before we can release them," she said.

"Rescuing these orphaned animals has been a challenging but rewarding experience."

Bat rescue

  • If you see a flying fox in trouble, don't touch it. Instead call the 24-hour rescue hotline on 0488 228 134 or 1300 264 625.

Topics:  bat conservation and rescue queensland flying foxes grey-haired flying foxes heatwave

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