I was out in the backyard the other evening and heard some rustling in our palm tree. Then there was a distinctive smell in the air and I knew straight away what the noise and smell were. This little fella munching on palm fruits. A black flying fox. They can make quite a racket when they are not happy. But this one happily munched his ‘breakfast’.
While in some areas people would like to see less of these animals. They are noisy, smelly and their feasies can be quite a mess. Fruit bat however play a vital role as pollinators at night. When birds and insect pollinators go to sleep, bats, possums and gliders do an important job in dispersing seeds and pollinating flowering plants.
Flying-foxes are crucial to keeping native forests healthy. They play an important role in dispersing seeds and pollinating flowering plants. Because flying-foxes are highly mobile, seeds can be moved locally and over great distances. When seeds are able to germinate away from their parent plant, they can have a greater chance of surviving and growing into a mature plant. Seed dispersal also expands the gene pool within forests. Mature trees then share their genes with neighbouring trees of the same species and this transfer strengthens forests against environmental changes.
High mobility also makes flying-foxes very effective as forest pollinators. Pollen sticks to their furry bodies and as they crawl from flower to flower, and fly from tree to tree, they pollinate the flowers and aid in the production of honey. This reinforces the gene pool and health of native forests.
In turn, native forests provide valuable timber, act as carbon sinks, and stabilise river systems and water catchments, and provide recreational and tourism opportunities worth millions of dollars each year. (Source: Dept. of Environment and Heritage Protection)
Black Flying-fox - Pteropus alecto
The black flying fox or black fruit bat (Pteropus alecto) is a bat in the family Pteropodidae. It is among the largest bats in the world but is considerably smaller than the largest species in its genus, Pteropus. The black flying fox is native to Australia, Papua New Guinea, and Indonesia. It is not a threatened species. (Source Wikipedia)