These are Little Red Flying Foxes, the smallest of our “fruitbats”, an endemic species of northern and eastern mainland Australia.
Flying Foxes are considered by many people as simply obnoxious pests. They can settle in suburban backyards in thousands, but these beautiful flying mammals serve a critical role especially in northern Australia by pollinating a wide range of plant species. They are the ‘bees’ of the tropical north, a place which is largely shunned by European honey bees. Besides pollination they also distribute seeds of native fruiting trees far and wide, a service indispensable to native forests.
Science is just beginning to understand the behaviour of these animals and with this knowledge managers will have the ability to persuade colonies to avoid areas of human habitation and agribusiness.
We have no idea whether these animals are increasing or decreasing in number, they a very nomadic and move over huge distances. One thing is certain however an that is their habitat is being increasingly lost to ‘development’ . The American Passenger Pigeon once blacked the sky in mid-western US states but is now gone forever. Lets not treat our Flying foxes the same way.