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19 November, 2020

Vigil to protect bats

Cairns and Far North Environment Centre (CAFNEC) is urging community members to help protect the endangered Spectacled Flying Fox, by signing up for a volunteer shift during a week-long peaceful vigil on the lawn outside the Cairns City Library, starting this Saturday.

From Saturday November 21 to Friday November 27, every morning from 3:30am to 6:30am, and every evening from 7pm to 9:30pm, CAFNEC volunteers will be holding the vigil, and are asking community members to register to attend one or more of the sessions.

CAFNEC Director Lucy Graham said the Spectacled Flying Fox was continuing to be threatened by the dispersal actions of the Cairns Regional Council.

“For over a decade CAFNEC has been campaigning alongside our community to protect this keystone species, yet still the government ignores our calls to recover this threatened species. In fact they are working in a way which is increasing the threat to the species,” she said.

“Over the past decade Cairns Regional Council has consistently removed Spectacled Flying Fox roost trees in the Cairns CBD to make way for developers.

“This has resulted in the accumulation of more than 43 trees destroyed, and the overcrowding of our Spectacled Flying Foxes (SFF) in the Cairns Library Roost.

“The heritage listed trees at the nationally significant Cairns Library Roost hold more than 10 per cent of the remaining population of the species and it is also a key pup-rearing roost.

“On the 4th July this year, CRC began undertaking costly and disruptive management actions to disperse the Cairns CBD Library colony.

“This dispersal continues, now both morning and evening, well into the pup rearing season and the stressful period of summer, where bats suffer from increased temperatures.

“To date there have been more than 50 orphaned flying fox pups, and six pup flying fox deaths at the Cairns Library Roost.

“Communication between Councillors and CAFNEC indicate that the Council has already spent $611,000 on this dispersal and that this is likely to increase to $825k by the end of the financial year.

“The management plan that NRM Consultants prepared for Cairns Regional Council, describes the activities as ‘costly and ineffective’ and that is exactly the result we are seeing.

“Our community has been provided with no evidence that this dispersal is successful, or the ecological reports that demonstrate why it should continue.

“It is now November, temperatures are becoming hotter, and as we saw in the mass death event of 2018, this can be a very stressful time for the species.

“Additionally Cairns Library Roost is a key creche roost - where the flying foxes bring up their young.

“As the dispersal continues and flying foxes are not being allowed to land in their creche, an alternative creche has not been established elsewhere and we risk losing many of the pups born this year.

“Despite this, CRC continues to use its ‘as-of-right-authority’ to disperse, prune, and disturb the Cairns CBD Camp, causing further stress on the population of this critically endangered species.

“The clock is ticking for our SFF.

“That is why CAFNEC is working to stop the dispersal until the pup rearing season is over, and summer has ended.

“We’re asking Cairns locals to take three important actions. Join us for a four-hour shift during our 48-hour sit-in. Sign our letter to the CRC acting CEO. And use our Facebook frame and share the word on social media.”

All information can be found at:

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