One of the most unusual sights you see in Sydney is that of fruit bats swooping across the evening sky. But time is almost up for the 20,000 bats that have lived in the city’s Royal Botanic Gardens for the past 20 years.
The damage done to the park by these bats is forcing the authorities to drive them out of there. Not only have trees been destroyed, but large sections of the gardens have been closed for fear damaged trees could fall and injure visitors.
But it is not easy to find a new home for them. The bats are a protected species and classified as ‘vulnerable’ under the NSW conservation act. Permission to relocate them was required from both the state and commonwealth government.
The plan is to shift the colony of bats by blasting industrial noises at them day and night. It’s a controversial method that worked for the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne, but not everyone is convinced it will work in Sydney.
Storm Stanford is the Chair Person of a group called Bat Advocacy. All her spare time is dedicated to helping injured or stranded fruit bats. The group was so opposed to the decision, they took it all the way to the federal court. Storm believes it ”will not work” and could even make the problem worse.
"There's a big risk that I don't think the botanic gardens has addressed in terms of the dispersal and that is of additional colonies starting in areas, where they are going to be more unacceptable to people." she told CNBC.
But the federal court has ruled in favor of the Botanic Gardens and the eviction is set to start within weeks. The Botanic Garden also plans to follow their movement and behavior, by attaching radio tracking devices to a number of the colony. It’s the biggest Australian study ever taken of fruit bats and will cost half a million dollars and more than three years.