What does National Threatened Species Day mean to me? Threatened species are actually all around us but they often get overlooked, or we forget their connection with our daily lives. This threatened species day, I‘d like to stop for a minute and shine the spotlight on the ‘little and local’ animals that share our environment. Taronga Zoo grounds are situated in Mosman, NSW, adjacent to Sydney harbour national park. Our extensive gardens and on- site bushland provide habitat for many wild threatened species that live or pass through the grounds.
The tiny Eastern Bentwing- Bat Miniopterus schreibersii oceanensis is one such visitor. Weighing only 20 grams (a $1 coin weighs 9g), they can occasionally be seen fluttering around the dusk sky by those who take the time to look up! Micro-bats like the bentwing feed on insects, and use a sophisticated radar system to hunt them (you can get a close look at the world’s largest micro-bat – the ghost bat – in the Australian Nightlife Exhibit).
Sadly one of the greatest threats to this species is loss of productive foraging ground. If you live in NSW, you can help your local micro-bats directly by planting locally native plant species in your garden, or by getting involved in bush regeneration to restore habitat and keep local ecosystems functioning. An added advantage of looking after our threatened micro-bat species is that having a diverse and ‘balanced’ insect/bat relationship helps to prevent outbreaks of any one particular insect species. Wherever you live in the world, there will be a local species that needs your help, it’s a fun challenge to recognise them and find out how to help them.
By Wendy Gleen, Keeper in the Australian Nightlife Exhibit.