Sydney’s Royal Botanical Gardens are using industrial music and banging noises to fend off fruit bats. While about 5,000 bats had been routinely seen hanging from trees in the park, only about ten now remain, says Agence France-Presse.
The executive director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Brett Summerell, says that 45 minutes of “annoying sounds” in the morning and 35 in the evening have been enough to scare away the bats.
Also known as flying foxes, the bats have, say the Botanical Parks, damaged several hundred trees and plants, resulting in the loss of more than 28 trees and 30 palms. The introduction of industrial music — of heavy-duty noise — has led to “peace and quiet” in the park for the first time in its 196 year history, says the Daily Telegraph.
Sydney residents and animal advocates including Sydney Bats have raised concerns about where the bats will go to. Sydney Bats has posted an action alert asking for volunteers to monitor the results of the Botanical Gardens’ noise dispersal campaign. While it is “impossible to predict” the bats’ new location, Sydney Bats points out that “during previous dispersal actions in Melbourne and Maclean, new camps were formed not only close to the place of dispersal but also some distance away.”
Summerell says that fears about the bats creating a new camp in suburban areas have not materialized. 100 bats have been fitted with satellite collars to track their movements; the bats have flown as far as 434 miles away to Queensland as well as to Canberra.
The noise dispersal campaign only began on June 4 so it remains to be seen how effective it might be in the long run. As Sydney Bats notes, the bats — the largest in Australia — play an important role as pollinators and seed dispersers and, therefore, in the regeneration and health of forest and woodland ecosystems. The success of the noise dispersal program could set a worrisome precedent, says Sydney Bats, as it may “lead to public pressure to disturb and disperse many other camps, especially those close to residential areas”; whenever the bats are removed from one site, they must of course seek out another and there is no telling where.
Have the Sydney Royal Botanical Gardens only created new problems with its noise dispersal campaign?
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Photo by Shek Graham