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Why the Grey-headed Flying-fox is listed as a threatened species

Why the Grey-headed Flying-fox is listed as a threatened species

A threatened species is one that has been formally determined to be threatened with extinction in the near future.

We often think of a threatened species as rare, such as the Javan rhinoceros with fewer than 100 individuals left in the world.

However, there are many factors than can influence the risk of extinction of a species and thus its conservation status. These factors include:

  • the number of individuals remaining
  • overall increase or decrease in the population over time
  • breeding success rates
  • change in geographic distribution
  • known threats.

At the time of listing, the species was considered eligible for listing as Vulnerable as counts of flying-foxes over the previous decade suggested that the national population may have declined by up to 30 per cent. It was also estimated that the population would continue to decrease by at least 20 per cent in the next three generations given the continuation of the current rate of habitat loss and culling.

The main threat to Grey-headed Flying-foxes in NSW is clearing or modification of native vegetation. This threatening process removes appropriate sleeping and breeding sites and limits the availability of natural food resources, particularly winter-spring feeding habitat in north-eastern NSW. The urbanisation of the coastal plains of south-eastern Queensland and northern NSW has seen the removal of annually-reliable winter feeding sites, and this threatening process continues.

Flying-foxes are a vital part of the ecological web. They are responsible for the continued fertilisation and distribution of many of the region’s rainforest species.

The two most commonly encountered species in the Byron Shire are the Black and the Grey-headed flying-foxes.

The Grey-headed flying-fox is easily recognisable by its rusty reddish-coloured collar, grey head and hairy legs. It is a native species and under NSW law, all native species are protected.