Why are flying-foxes integral parts of the ecosystem?

Flying-foxes feed on the nectar and pollen of native flowers and fruits. As a result, they benefit the health of vegetation by spreading seeds and pollinating native plants.

How can I tell the three local species of flying-fox apart?

Three species of flying-fox occur in New South Wales.

Grey-headed flying-foxes (Pteropus poliocephalus) have a rusty reddish-coloured collar, grey head and hairy legs.

Black flying-foxes (Pteropus alecto) are almost completely black in colour with a slight rusty red-coloured collar and a brush of silvery grey on its belly.

Little red flying-foxes (Pteropus scapulatus) are the smallest Australian flying-fox and has reddish brown-coloured fur.

For more information on identification and to view images, as well as distribution maps, head to the NSW Government website. The SEQ Catchments 2018 flying-fox fact sheet also has great information on identification.

Why is the grey-headed flying-fox listed as a threatened species?

Grey-headed flying-foxes are the most vulnerable of the three local species. They are listed as vulnerable under the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016, due to a rapid decline in numbers of up to 30 %, rather than the actual numbers in the existing population. Their decline is due to
  • Competition with humans for prime coastal habitat along the south-east Queensland, NSW and Victorian coasts
  • Habitat loss and modification resulting in removal of sleeping and breeding sites, as well as limitation of natural food resources
  • Culling by humans when negative interactions occur
  • Extreme heat events

What is a flying-fox management policy and plan?

NSW Government state that "The Flying-fox Camp Management Policy 2015 empowers land managers, primarily local councils, to work with their communities to manage flying-fox camps effectively. The main purpose of this policy is to minimise health and amenity impacts of flying-fox camps on people at the same time as avoiding unnecessary harm to flying-foxes."

Land managers, such as Clarence Valley Council, can then develop a camp management plan to record how a flying-fox camp (or a number of camps) will be managed, by addressing management options, flying-fox ecology, case studies of camp management and information about health issues.

Currently, Clarence Valley Council has a flying-fox management strategy in place for Maclean. We are working on developing an LGA-wide plan for the Clarence Valley Council.

Who do you call in the Clarence if you find a sick or injured flying-fox?

Call Wildlife Rescue 1300 094 737 (WIRES) or go online:


Experienced, trained handlers will advise what should be done to assist the flying-fox.

Please note that flying-foxes can carry disease and so you should not touch the flying-fox. Wait for trained handlers to assist.

What do I do if I notice flying-foxes in heat distress?

Heat stress affects flying-foxes when temperatures reach 42°C or more and occurs when the body produces more heat than it can dissipate. The NSW Government website has excellent information on how to handle heat stress - view their Responding to heat stress in flying-fox camps page.