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Grey-headed Flying-foxes have been coming to Melbourne for more than 100 years, but numbers have been increasing due to a loss of their habitat in New South Wales and Queensland and the creation of a reliable food supply here. Increased plantings of native trees over the last 30 years and year-round irrigation have resulted in a continual source of food that has made Melbourne more attractive to these animals.
In 1986 a colony of Grey-headed Flying-foxes took up permanent residence in the Royal Botanic Gardens. Up to 6,000 individuals roosted in the Gardens year-round, with the number increasing to 20,000 during the breeding season.
Relocation ProjectIn 2002 the Grey-headed Flying-fox colony was distributed over approximately 30% of the Royal Botanic Gardens and was damaging heritage-listed vegetation. Particular areas, such as Fern Gully and surrounding trees, could not withstand the stress of continual use by large numbers of Flying-foxes which stripped branches of their leaves and killed some trees.
Grey-headed Flying-foxes will always be attracted to Melbourne because of the high quality of food resources it provides. It was therefore agreed that a long-term, sustainable plan for the Flying-fox colony needed to be developed. The plan needed to protect the Royal Botantic Garden’s historic plantings while providing an acceptable campsite for the Flying-foxes.
In March 2003 a large-scale dispersal program was successful in relocating the colony to a more suitable location at Yarra Bend Park, Kew.
The criteria used in assessing the suitability of sites were: distance from the Botanic Gardens; the amount of shelter available; the structure of the overstorey vegetation; the understorey microclimate; size of the area; potential for expansion; impact on and distance from human use; current site use; security and services available to the site.
Read a detailed report on the site selection process:
The following historical documents describe the various stages of the flying-fox relocation project over time:
Yarra Bend Park
The Grey-headed Flying-fox colony is located at Yarra Band Park, Kew and can be seen from the Bellbird Picnic area, off the Yarra Bend Boulevard (Melway reference Map 2D K6). The camp can be viewed from the banks of the Yarra River, just north of the car park. Excellent views can also be seen from the Yarra Boulevard, which looks out over the colony and towards the city skyline.
The Flying-foxes cannot be viewed from the golf course itself. People are asked not to walk through the golf course as this will disrupt people’s golf game and could disturb the colony. The best views are from the Yarra Boulevard side of the Park.
People are encouraged to watch and appreciate the Flying-foxes, but do not disturb them. Under the Wildlife Act, causing the death of a flying-fox could result in a fine of up to $28,800 and/or 24 months' imprisonment. Harassing or causing injury to this nationally threatened species carries a maximum penalty of $2,400. Further penalties under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 may also apply. Parks Victoria rangers and Department of Sustainability and Environment wildlife officers frequently patrol Yarra Bend Park.
Please note: Document(s) on this page are presented in PDF format. If you do not have the Adobe Reader, you can download a copy free from the Adobe web site.