A bat hanging from a tree at Yarra Bend Park

Victoria’s population of grey-headed flying fox bats will be protected from extreme heat by a world-first, permanent and bespoke watering system powered by an electric pump and generator, and designed to alleviate heat stress for the large colony of bats at Yarra Bend Park.

The project will be funded by $180,000 from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and delivered in collaboration by Parks Victoria, Melbourne Water, Yarra Bend Golf, Wildlife Victoria and Zoos Victoria.

Parks Victoria Chief Ranger, Brendan Sullivan, said the project would be equivalent to a ‘giant evaporative cooler’.

“The best way to think of it is as a massive evaporative cooler that will lower the ambient temperature in the colony,” Mr Sullivan said.

“The system will challenge even the most experienced engineer: water must be drawn from the Yarra into the colony and the system needs to reach the eucalypt canopy eleven metres up, covering three and a half hectares.”

Trials over the last few years have shown the bats quickly get used to the water. An electric pump and generator will power the system with minimum noise.

Bats play a vital role pollinating and dispersing seed for many native forests across the east coast of Australia. Like many native mammals, these bats are endangered, and the recent State of the Environment report has called for more to be done to protect and support them

“This is going to be a game changer for this colony and for our management,” Mr Sullivan said.

“There has been a lot of good work and collaboration between everyone working with the same goal: to look after the grey-headed flying foxes. We’ve caused so much damage to these bats, it’s great to be able to do something that’s going to be of benefit for them.”

Protecting this important habitat and refuge for the flying foxes will ensure that Yarra Bend Park continues to offer a unique wildlife experience for visitors, within 4km of Melbourne CBD.

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