The Grey Headed Flying Foxes are sentient beings of the Australian forest often roosting near rivers. These, like all other Australian wildlife are as much a part of, and intertwined with Australia as the Great Barrier Reef.
They have evolved with the trees and other plants in a synergistic relationship, which is the jigsaw of overlapping pieces that make Australia. Each supporting the other, and creating the whole. Take away any part, a thread out of this complex tapestry and the incredible beauty and magic that exists here will be weakened, fray and eventually fall apart with the loss of the amazing ecosystem and diversity which is the glue what holds it all together.
The above photo taken by, and with permission to display here from Ofer Levy.
Having a quick drink as flying foxes do.
This has already happened with the loss of some species like the Thylacine and Crescent nailtail wallaby long ago. More recently the Christmas Island pipistrelle and desert bettong. Too many species have already been recorded as extinct. There are others, some unrecorded that have been lost. But we didn't even know them or put up our hand to stop when noticing they were becoming thin on the ground where we were aware of them. Nor did we sense our environment out of balance and wobbling.
The Grey Headed Flying Foxes are long distance travellers, night pollinators of
plants, who also disperse invaluable seed widely. There are few if any
pollinators or seed distributors that fly the distances traversed by flying foxes.
The evolution of bat pollination: a phylogenetic perspective
"We propose that flower-visiting bats provide two important benefits to plants: they deposit large amounts of pollen and a variety of pollen genotypes on plant stigmas and, compared with many other pollinators, they are long-distance pollen dispersers."
The Grey Headed Flying Foxes have been persecuted in Victoria since white
settlement. It cannot be dismissed or condoned by any thinking person. It can be
explained because the early settlers of Australia arrived at an opinion, widely
distributed and never questioned. That flying foxes of all kinds were vermin, because they attacked the fruit introduced by the white settlers.
Surely we must recognise any animal that has use for what we eat and harvests it for themselves, is like we humans, clever and opportunists. That may be a good reason to attempt to better understand them.
Are we more enlightened, certainly just as prejudiced today; even with greater knowledge? Some landholders and people who imagine they are inconvenienced by wildlife, flying foxes in this case, perceive that anything which moves, and has not been brought into the country for their benefit. Is justifiably destined for death in any way that delivers the desired result. So common and easily explained away by declaring themselves the victim; forgetting they are the trespasser, and Terra nullius was a contrived strategy which landholders believe gives them the right to kill the original inhabitants as well as steal their land.
Grey Headed Flying Foxes had been coming to Victoria long before Australia was the target for white settlement. They came to feed upon the blossom of the trees that were then plentiful; before the land cleared by the people who came by boat and settled in the state. A few trees remaining show that forests of yellow box, iron bark, and many other valuable sources of blossom and valuable timber covered the landscape.Pulled down and burnt to grow grass.
When flying foxes returned after the white settlers, convicts and those who were to administer them arrived, and had destroyed many forested areas to appear much as the land from which they had been expelled. Our native flying foxes found devastation, their food source depleted and roosting areas limited. How many perished from starvation at that point? Finding disappointment and death rather than food in abundance, trees cut down and windrowed for burning? Did they find new and different fruit? Were there any orchards that were producing from young fruit trees? Were there any in the East Gippsland area after the first settlers cleared the land? Even if there was only one introduced fruit tree that they tested for taste, they would have been attacked by these evil smelling aliens and been slaughtered in their hundreds. They would have been declared pests. Flying foxes would have had no experience of such savagery.
Uncontrolled commercial interests of government of Victoria, are still destroying forest areas by the most wasteful and destructive methods of logging that were ever devised. Much like the the forests of the Amazon, and the scale, if not as large in one local, across the country the same or not all that different in size. This destruction is sanctioned by government directly and indirectly by their environment department finding ways to circumvent the laws that have been legislated to protect wildlife; permitting land to be cleared for development, farming and non essential projects. The flying foxes, among other wildlife, endemic to and resident of Australia, are just one of the victims of these actions.
Grey Headed Flying Foxes, in fact all flying foxes are so very important to us all. Humans and other species. Humans often enough boast about being the clever species; yet destroy other species that are important to the survival of our own species.
Time to change track and really attempt being clever, and start caring about the species of living things, plants and wildlife that helped to create and maintain the country so coveted by the early settler. Start caring for and about protecting and conserving the flora and fauna that make up the other threads of the tapestry of life that still holds us in place, for now. We must secure the future for our children and their children and each child into the future by respecting those who lived on this land, almost since time began; certainly for us.