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International photography award for Megabat plight

Wildlife carer Traycee releases a grey-headed flying fox.
Photo: Doug Gimesy

As dusk settles upon the Yarra, Doug Gimesy is poised with his camera, capturing thousands of grey-headed flying foxes as they wake from slumber.

The Australian wildlife photographer's series of striking images, Rescuing the Night Gardeners, which took about two years to capture, range from wildlife carers nursing injured animals to bats feasting on blossoms, has won the inaugural Wildscreen Photo Story Panda Award in the Animal Friends category in the city of Bristol in Britain.

It's a prestigious award he "never dreamed" of winning.

The Wildscreen Awards have celebrated the best examples of natural world storytelling for 36 years, including international wildlife film, TV and content, recognising the likes of BBC's Blue Planet II and documentaries Rise of the Warrior Apes and Serengeti Rules.

Flying foxes traversing the night sky are a common sight for Melburnians, but Gimesy's snaps explore the introduced dangers they face: barbed wire, fruit tree netting, power lines and habitat destruction.

It also captures the wildlife carers who dedicate themselves to rescuing and reviving the bats, some which are looked after at carers' homes before being released back into the wild.

As a zoologist with a Masters of Environment and Bioethics,  Gimesy has a unique perspective and understanding of the natural world.

The 56-year-old from Brighton has won a range of international awards, has worked for National Geographic and has taught science communication at RMIT and the University of Melbourne.

Gimesy said the grey-headed flying fox was a vital pollinator whose population was now listed as vulnerable under the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List.

“As environmental communicators, we need to change our language and stop using the term 'habitat loss' and inferring it's some type of accident, that no one is to blame and that no one is morally accountable," Gimesy said of the species' plight.

"It’s not an accident. It’s 'habitat destruction' and we need to start using this term and holding people responsible for what is happening."

The awards were announced at the Wildscreen Festival. The finalists and winners of The Animal Friends Photo Story Awards will be featured in a large-scale outdoor exhibition in Bristol until November 7.





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BatsRule!: International photography award for Megabat plight
International photography award for Megabat plight
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