02 Mar Rehabilitate the Rehabilitation Centre
In greater Sydney, there’s only one flying fox rehabilitation centre, and it’s located in Lane Cove National Park. There are two aviaries on the property: one for adults, and a smaller one for pups in creche. The large aviary was originally built as a flight aviary for birds. SMWS used it as a rehabilitation area for native birds, along with another area which had many habitats for recovering native wildlife. Eventually, the aviary was repurposed as a flight aviary for flying foxes, and SMWS received a grant to build the smaller aviary close to the large one. All of this was 10-15 years ago, and money has been very tight ever since. The flying foxes enjoy the upper half of the aviary where they hang in the sunlight during the day, move to the forward section of the aviary to eat the multiple kilograms of fruit cut by our volunteers, and then enjoy playing and flying from one end to the other. The problem is, the concrete floors have deteriorated over time, and are now as slippery – if not more slippery – as an ice rink. Trust me, it can be quite scary to clean the floors!
When Wildlife Heroes Project, supported by the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife, announced their large durable asset grants, SMWS jumped at the chance to get our concrete floors repoured and sealed to keep our volunteers safe every day. Miracles can happen, which we saw when we were awarded a grant to “rehabilitate the rehabilitation centre!” SMWS tried desperately to get the floors redone during our very short off season in November to December. We diligently worked with National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to satisfy their requirements since the aviaries sit on government land. We also hoped for as little disruption to the park visitors as possible, along with the café on the park grounds. Wildlife Heroes was extremely patient with us and offered any help we might need in bringing all the organisations together to succeed. Everyone tried to make it work, but we had more pups than expected. Additionally, many injured adults had “wintered” in volunteers’ homes and desperately needed back into the flight aviary to recuperate for their release. Sadly, it just didn’t come together in 2020. We accomplished minor repairs in preparation for the floor work, cleared a massive amount of “junk” from enclosures, and even removed an airlock from the large cage. SMWS is working hard in conjunction with WIRES (who share responsibilities for flying foxes in care) and NPWS to find a week when no pups remain in creche and the adults have spent 2 weeks soft releasing to Greater Sydney. Our hope is to begin work Monday, 19 April, 2021 to successfully replace worn slippery floors so our volunteers are safe and the flying foxes are fed each day they are in our care.