Unlike other pollinators like bees and birds, flying-foxes can transport pollen over vast distances and are also able to disperse larger seeds. This makes them vital to the health and regeneration of our native forests.
Threats to flying-foxes
The main threat to flying-foxes is clearing or modification of native vegetation. This removes appropriate roosting habitat and limits availability of natural food supplies. Loss of habitat and urbanisation across south-eastern Queensland and north-eastern NSW has seen the removal of annually reliable winter feeding sites. This process continues.
Flying-foxes are increasingly setting up camps in urban areas. This places them at risk of entanglement and death in inappropriate tree netting and barbed-wire, electrocution on powerlines, injuries from feeding on introduced trees and being persecuted at their camps. The deterioration of roost vegetation, combined with an increase in heat waves, means flying-foxes are increasingly susceptible to heat stress events.
Read about Heat stress in flying-fox camps.
Threatened species listing
A threatened species is one that has been formally determined to be threatened with extinction in the near future.
There are many factors than can influence the risk of extinction of a species and therefore its conservation status. These factors include:
- the number of individuals remaining
- overall increase or decrease in the population over time
- breeding success rates
- change in geographic distribution
- known threats.
In the case of the grey-headed flying-fox, its conservation status is based not on the numbers of animals in existence, but on the rapid rate of decline in numbers over a relatively short period. Population counts of flying-foxes between 1989 and 1999-2001 suggested that the national population may have declined by up to 30 per cent.
For more detailed descriptions of national and state threatened species nomination and listing processes visit Australian Government Threatened Species Scientific Committee and the NSW Threatened Species Scientific Committee.