from Tolga Bat Hospital
by Jenny Maclean
(from FFNFF Newsletter Edition 5, January 2000)
The Spectacled flying
foxes wintered over at Tolga again this year so we have had bats admitted
to the hospital throughout the year. The Little Red flying foxes visited
Tolga Scrub in small numbers in November, unlike last year when they visited
3 times in much larger numbers.
This has been a good year for tick paralysis thanks to the southern oscillation
index. We have had lots of rain which for unknown reasons rneans that
the paralysis ticks and the Spectacled flying foxes have a lot less contact.
We found 58 live
adults with tick paralysis and 22 dead ones. Last year it was 200 and
100 respectively. Of the 51 live adults (7 were euthanased), 41 were female
- 30 with babies, 11 without and 3 pregnant. There were only 10 males.
11 of the 22 dead were females with babies, though most had live babies.
It would appear that the colony are breeding well.
There were a lot of abandoned babies late in the season. Unfortunately
these older babies do not usually fall to the ground until they are dead.
There were 14 live lone babies, 33 dead and 4 with cleft palates.
We fostered out 12
babies and to date have received 34 back for release! The extras are from
Ingham, Daintree and Cairns area. In total we have about 60 orphans for
This year we plan
to try to release at the colony. Release last year from my home was very
slow - we surmise because of the prolonged rains. Helen and Kevin Adams
are helping with the design and construction of a vandal-proof winch system
to a cage in the canopy.
The March and November 1999 census data showed there were about 5000 Spectacleds
at Tolga Scrub. If they winter over at Tolga again in 2000, there are
plans to count them - in August as well. The other colonies on the Tablelands
did not fare so well. For the first time in living memory, the Spectacleds
did not return to the Whiteing Road colony, nor to the other maternity
colonies at Zillie Fails and Powley Road. Only about 1000 returned to
We have had 6 international photographers/photojournalists visit in 1999.
Most recently, we were visited for a story on flying foxes that will appear
in magazines for Australian Geographic and the Smithsonian Institute.
We have been contacted
for comment on flying fox stories by the local ABC radio and The Courier
Mail newspaper. The film made for National Geographic at the end of last
year has not yet been shown on overseas television so we have been unable
to get a copy. It is part of a series called 'Mission Wild'.
It is difficult to compare the statistics for birth defects this year
to last. Last year we were in the Scrub twice a day during the main birthing
time as there were a large number of adults with tick paralysis. This
year we were only checking every 2 or 3 days, time for these babies to
have been scavenged. We had 4 babies this year with severe cleft palate
compared to 30 last year.
During the tick paralysis season, we had a German volunteer for 1 week
and a Sydney volunteer for 1 week. Our trusted local volunteers were indispensable
We have T-shirts and posters for sale and charge photographers/journalists
for our time. We have a bed and breakfast for people interested in wildlife
and accept readily any donations. TREAT donated $200 this year.
We have a 3 year permit from National Parks for the display of flying
foxes at the hospital, as well as a separate 3 year education permit for
work in the community. We hope to attract rich tourists with a keen interest
in wildlife, mainly through tour groups.
The education work is very broadly based. It includes:
1. Our website www.athertontablelands.com/bats
was finally put up in September. We subscribe to a listserv for bats called
Batline and use it to keep the bat world informed of bat activities in
2. Printing of 2
posters, thanks to Bronwyn from the Barron River Integrated Catchment
Management Authority. They are Flying Foxes of the Atherton Tablelands
and Tolga Bat Rescue. A third, Microbats of the Atherton Tablelands, is
3. Education days
* Atherton Primary School through TREAT on TAP
* Vacation Care program
* National Parks holiday program
* FNQ Wildlife Rescue
* Tree Kangaroo and Mammal Group
4. Education stalls
at the Yungaburra Markets and the Ecofair in Cairns.
5. Planning with
the Tinaroo Environmental Centre on the development of educational material
and curriculum on bats for children 6-8 years old.