Grey-headed flying foxes (Pteropus poliocephalus)

Status: Vulnerable in NSW

The rainforest area of Blackbutt reserve is home to a colony of flying foxes and has been for over the past decade. This site is used by three different species of flying fox: the grey-headed flying fox (Pteropus poliocephalus), black flying fox (Pteropus alecto) and the little red flying fox (Pteropus scapulatus). The rainforest is the ideal location for these interesting mammals as it offers suitable roosting habitat, dense canopy cover, tall established trees and is close to water and year-round food resources. Colony numbers differ throughout the year and can fluctuate between 20,000 to 40,000 individuals. As campsites along the eastern coast of Australia diminish and food sources become even scarcer, we expect the colony numbers to increase.

The grey-headed flying fox is a large nectar- and fruit-eating bat which roosts during the day in large treetop colonies. Their numbers are drastically declining and research indicates that they may become extinct in the wild within 80-85 years.

Unfortunately flying foxes receive bad publicity due to their invasion of urban gardens and their lack of aesthetic attraction. Positive attributes are commonly overlooked through lack of public education and negative media coverage.

Flying foxes are excellent pollinators, dispersing seeds and pollinating blossoms throughout forests along the east coast of Australia. Eucalypts require pollen from the same species to make fertile seed. Rainforest seeds are dispersed away from mature trees giving them the chance to germinate and survive. As native birds and insects cannot fly over long distances, it is the flying foxes who are contributing to the ongoing maintenance and linkage of ecosystems within Australia.

Blackbutt Reserve is proud to have these remarkable, misunderstood creatures camping within the rainforest, and we encourage you to educate family and friends about their plight.

Blackbutt Reserve is part of the National Flying Fox Monitoring Programme (NFFMP) run by the CSIRO and the Department of Environment. The monitoring programme uses scientifically rigorous monitoring methodology to gather updated information about the status of the national grey-headed flying fox population and population trends.

For further information, please visit Department of Environment website.