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National Megabat Flying-fox Fruit bat monitoring viewer

Interactive Flying-fox Web Viewer
An interactive Flying-fox web viewer has been developed to visually present the camp census data collected via the National Flying-fox Monitoring Programme. The viewer shows the camp occurrence of the Grey-headed and Spectacled Flying-fox. Within the eastern coastal belt, the viewer also shows Black Flying-fox and Little Red Flying-fox camps. The Grey-headed and Spectacled Flying-fox are listed threatened under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. See the ‘Environment Law’ tab above for more information on Australia’s Flying-foxes and their legal status.
The viewer allows users to explore Flying-fox camps and the numbers of each species counted over time. This information spans the data gathered from November 2012 to present.
If you are aware of Flying-fox camps that contain either Grey-headed or Spectacled Flying-foxes, but are not shown on this interactive web tool then you can notify the Department of the Environment by emailing details of the camp to species policy@environment.gov.au.
National Monitoring Methodology
The CSIRO has developed a scientifically rigorous monitoring methodology to gather updated information about the status of the national Grey-headed Flying-fox population and population trends (see below). The Commonwealth and state governments are working together to implement a multi-year monitoring programme, based on the CSIRO's methodology (see below).

National Flying-Fox Monitoring Programme

On 29 July 2011, the Australian Government announced a new commitment of $6 million for Hendra virus research, including $1 million from the Department of the Environment (DoE). Australian Government Hendra funding will complement contributions of $3 million each from the NSW and Queensland Governments. The National Hendra Virus Research Programme has allocated $9 million to a number of Hendra virus, human health and Flying-fox related research projects which will continue until 2015. The National Health and Medical Research Council has also allocated $3 million to research projects to better understand and fight Hendra virus.
Six new research projects totaling just over $2 million were announced on 31 May 2012, including $794,717 to CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences (Dr David Westcott) for the project 'Implementing a National Flying-fox Monitoring programme' (NFFMP). The Minister approved an additional $700,000 towards the NFFMP under the 'Emerging Priorities' of the National Environment Research Programme (NERP). This funding will be used to estimate the accuracy of Flying-fox counts made through the NFFMP.
The NFFMP will be focused primarily on monitoring national Grey-headed and Spectacled Flying-fox populations, however within the range of these two species, counts of Black and Little Red Flying-foxes will also be undertaken. The monitoring programme will include four censuses per year for the first three years. The NFFMP is being coordinated by CSIRO and DoE, with additional resources and support from relevant state governments. CSIRO is also contributing resources into the radio tracking component of the programme and working on and funding separately the development of a new generation of energy-efficient technologies that can continuously track the position of Flying-foxes.

Reports of the National Flying-fox Monitoring Programme

The views and opinions expressed in these publications are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Australian Government or the Minister for the Environment. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure that the contents of this publication are factually correct, the Commonwealth does not accept responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of the contents, and shall not be liable for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the contents of this publication.

Status and Trends of Australia’s EPBC-Listed Flying-Foxes

Monitoring event reports

Reports of counts under the National Flying Fox Monitoring Programme are published below once the data has been checked and analysed.

The Monitor – Newsletter of the National Flying-fox Monitoring Programme

The Monitor is a newsletter with background stories on the National Flying Fox Monitoring Programme.

Flying-foxes are large bats that feed on plant products such as fruit, flowers, pollen and nectar. They generally congregate in camps made up of large numbers of individuals, but some also roost singly or in small groups. Camps can be found in a range of vegetation types, usually close to water in an area with a dense understorey.
Flying-foxes are highly mobile, ranging up to 40 km from their camps at night to feed. They also move up to hundreds of kilometres to follow the flowering and fruiting of food sources.
Flying-foxes play a vital role in keeping our ecosystems in good health. They pollinate flowers and disperse seeds as they forage on the nectar and pollen of eucalypts, melaleucas and banksias and on the fruits of rainforest trees and vines. Flying-foxes are important in ensuring the survival of our threatened rainforests such as the Wet Tropics and Gondwana Rainforests, both listed as World Heritage sites.
Seven species of flying-fox are found in Australia.
Status and distribution of Australian flying-foxes

Grey-headed Flying-fox (Pteropus poliocephalus) Vulnerable
Vulnerable (NSW); Vulnerable (Victoria); Least Concern (Queensland)
Australia's only endemic flying-fox species. Occurs in the coastal belt from Rockhampton in central Queensland to Adelaide in South Australia.

Spectacled Flying fox (Pteropus conspicillatussubsp.conspicillatus)  Vulnerable
Restricted to tropical rainforest areas between Ingham and Cooktown, and between the McIlwraith and Iron Ranges of Cape York.

Christmas Island Flying-fox (Pteropus melanotus subsp.natalis) Critically Endangered
Restricted to Christmas Island

Black Flying-fox (Pteropus alectosubsp. gouldii) Not listed
Least Concern (Northern Territory)
Occur around the northern coast of Australia (Western Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland and northern NSW) and inland wherever permanent water is found in rivers.

Little Red Flying-fox (Pteropus scapulatus) Not listed
Least Concern (Queensland)
From Shark Bay in WA through northern Australia, and down the east coast to northern Victoria, ranging far inland (the species has been recorded in northern South Australia on two occasions).

Large-eared Flying-fox (Pteropus macrotissubsp. epularius) Not listed
The only known location of this species in Australia is a mangrove island beside Boigu Island, and Saibai Island (both within a few kilometres of the New Guinea coast).

Bare-backed Fruit Bat (Dobsonia magnasubspp.moluccensis) Not listed
Near threatened (Queensland)
Most of north, north-central and east Cape York.

  • Hall, L. & G. Richards (2000). Flying foxes: Fruit and Blosson Bats of Australia. Sydney, NSW: University of NSW.
  • Van Dyck, S. & R. Strahan (2008). The Mammals of Australia, Third Edition. Sydney: Reed New Holland.

Why are some flying-foxes nationally protected?

The Grey-headed Flying-fox (Pteropus poliocephalus), Spectacled Flying-fox (Pteropus conspicillatus subsp. conspicillatus) and the Christmas Island Flying-fox (Pteropus melanotus natalis) are listed under national environmental law (Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, theEPBC Act). The numbers of all three EPBC listed flying-foxes have declined over recent times, due to habitat clearance, natural stochastic events and culling.
Counts of Grey-headed Flying-foxes conducted in 1989 and 1998-2001 indicated a 30 per cent decline in the national population. This qualified the species for listing as a vulnerable species under national environmental law.
Counts of Spectacled Flying-fox conducted between 1998 and 2000 indicated the Spectacled Flying-fox population declined from 153,000 in 1998 to about 80,000 in 1999 and 2000. Modelling identified that the species was likely to be extinct in less than 100 years due to the high levels of death associated with human interactions. This made them eligible for listing as vulnerable under national environmental law.
Counts of the Christmas Island Flying-fox conducted in 1984 concluded that the population was 6000 individuals and recorded anecdotal claims of a decline over the preceding decades. More recent censuses in 2007 and 2012 provided population estimates of 1500 and 1000 individuals respectively. The trend of decline and subsequent small population size made the subspecies eligible for listing as Critically Endangered under national environmental law.
It is important to remember that state governments, irrespective of national listing status, consider all species of flying-fox to be protected native species.

What does this national protection mean?

Actions that are likely to have a significant impact on the Grey-headed, Spectacled or Christmas Island Flying-fox must be referred to the Australian Government. If you are not sure if a proposed activity is likely to have a significant impact on these flying-foxes, please contact the Department to discuss it by emailing epbc.referrals@environment.gov.au or phoning 1800 803 772.
Substantial penalties of up to $8.5 million or up to seven years imprisonment apply for undertaking an activity, to which the EPBC Act applies, without approval. For more information about what this national protection means please refer to:
In addition to potential considerations under the EPBC Act, you are advised to check your obligations under state legislation before undertaking any activities that may kill or injure flying-foxes or interfere with camps.

Where can I get more information on flying-foxes?

Further information on the nationally listed Grey-headed, Spectacled and Christmas Island Flying-foxes can be found in the Species Profiles and Threats database (SPRAT profiles) for these species. There is also a national recovery plan in place for the Spectacled Flying-fox, containing details of the species' biology, threats and recovery objectives.
A recovery plan for the Grey-headed Flying-fox is being prepared.
The following state and territory government websites also have information on the ecology and biology of flying-foxes:

How can flying-foxes be managed in accordance with national environmental law?

Flying-fox camps can be large and may occur in trees that are close to houses and livestock. Residents who live near camps often have concerns regarding noise, damage to vegetation and hygiene.
Activities that are likely to have a significant impact on a nationally threatened species need to be referred to the Australian Government to ensure they are consistent with national environment law. In regards to nationally-listed flying-fox species, this may include proposals to disperse camps, move or shift camp boundaries, or clearance of important roosting or foraging habitat.
Some activities to manage problematic flying-fox camps may be considered unlikely to have a significant impact and may not need to be submitted to the Australian Government for approval. Examples may include minor modifications to habitat, such as creating buffers by trimming or removing vegetation using appropriate timing and methodology, planting non-roost plant species, or re-vegetating key areas to improve or create additional habitat away from affected areas.
Measures can also be implemented to deter colonies from establishing in inappropriate areas by using noise and visual methods. However, once a camp is established at a site, disturbance using noise and visual methods may result in a significant impact and may require a referral to the Australian Government.
It is recommended that you seek advice from the Department before undertaking major habitat modifications or other activities.
To help inform the public about how to live with flying-foxes, the state government websites listed above may also help to answer any questions you have.


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BatsRule!: National Megabat Flying-fox Fruit bat monitoring viewer
National Megabat Flying-fox Fruit bat monitoring viewer
National Megabat Flying-fox Fruit bat monitoring viewer
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