Submitted by Gitie on 6 October, 2011 - 15:36
The recent outbreak of the potentially deadly hendra virus is a cause of great concern to horse breeders and farmers alike. According to the Department of Primary Industries, although the virus can be transmitted from horses to humans, found in bats, there is no evidence that it can be transmitted directly to humans. Flying foxes are critical to the environment and a protected species. Culling is not only cruel but also ineffective. (Ref: Flying Foxes and Hendra Virus; The role of flying foxes in Hendra virus)
There are many effective steps people can take in reducing the risk of horses and people getting infected. See:
Reducing the Risk of Hendra Infection in Horses
Reducing the Risk of Hendra Infection in People
Flying foxes are the only flying mammals and perform the quintessential task of pollinating and dispersing seeds of many native plants. Many trees especially those with white and green fruits rely only on flying foxes for pollination and dispersal of seeds. Losing our flying foxes would also mean losing a vast range of our native plants.
Flying foxes are also responsible for nutrient regeneration and nutrient cycling within the ecosystem, (Ref: Living With Wildlife) by providing large quantities of natural fertiliser across the landscape. They also create gaps in canopies enabling ground- dwelling plants to get more sunlight and rain.
Submitted by Gitie on 1 March, 2011 - 16:40
(All pictures in this article: courtesy batsqld.org.au and Long Grass Wildlife Refuge)
Bats are among the earliest mammals, experts dating them back to around 50 million years. Cave paintings in the Kimberley's dating back to the last Ice Age which was around 20 - 25,000 years ago feature bats as can be seen in the above image.