Foxes stay cool: new sprinklers for Parramatta’s flying foxes

WHILE Sydneysiders flock to beaches and swimming pools to escape the heat this summer, Parramatta’s grey-headed flying-fox colony can stay exactly where they are.

Greater Sydney Parklands Chief Executive Suellen Fitzgerald said new sprinklers have been fitted to the trees of Parramatta Park’s flying fox colony as part of a trial to see if they can

Cool them down when summer temperatures soar.

“Up to 10,000 flying foxes call Parramatta Park home and we’re trailing sprinklers to keep them cool throughout the hot summer months,” Ms Fitzgerald said.

“Flying-foxes are pollinators that help keep our forests healthy, and they’re playing an important recovery role for many areas affected by the Black Summer bushfires.”

The sprinklers were designed to mimic Sydney’s summer rainstorms and pump water from Parramatta River up the trees to cool down the canopy. WIRES volunteers will decide whether to activate the sprinklers via an app once temperatures reach 42 degrees.

The NSW Government’s Saving our Species program estimates 72,000 flying-foxes were killed in extreme heat events across 40 camps in NSW in 2019/20, caused by drought and days of extreme temperatures, including in the Parramatta Park camp.

Using a $30,000 grant from the Saving our Species fund, the new system includes weather monitors to capture temperature and humidity data within the camp.

Ms Fitzgerald said the new sprinklers benefit the flying-foxes and show that Greater Sydney Parklands is listening to the local community.

“This could not have been done without the advocacy of our local community and wildlife carers, who brought this to our attention and recommended trailing sprinklers as a tool to cooldown the camp,” Ms Fitzgerald said.

“Our parks are crucial for our native wildlife to survive the impacts of a changing climate. We’re planning with this in mind across all our parks, with the flying-foxes in Parramatta and

Centennial Park, and the native bird species at Fernhill Estate.”

The Parramatta Park camp is one of 15 nationally recognised grey-headed flying-fox camps in Sydney.

Flying-foxes are considered a keystone species with many Australian native trees depending on them for long distance pollination and seed dispersal.

Image: Parramatta Park flying fox.

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