- Dress up as a bat at Cairns Bat Festival. Saturday 2 May. Fun night for tourists and locals. www.ausbats.org.au
- facebook / events
Please share this event and please come along, will be a great evening...programme includes inspirational speakers, videos, watching the amazing flying fox fly-out, micro-bat detection, kids and craft activities, face painting, best dressed bat prizes, food, information stalls, fundraising and auction.
The official hashtag for the event is #CairnsBatFestival so snap and tag!
Anyone that can help? Maree Kerr of ABS is the Bat Night Co-Ordinator. We need your help with the following:
1. Anyone that can donate a prize or something for auction.
2. Sponsors. Anyone know of local organisations that can be a sponsor for the evening.
Blood sucking creatures that turn day into night and descend from the sky in a screeching fury of teeth and claws; the public perception of bats was a hot topic of discussion at the inaugural Cairns Bat Festival held on Saturday.
Festival organiser Maree Treadwell-Kerr from the Australian Bat Society said Saturday's event in the Cairns CBD was just one in a series of events being staged throughout Australia and New Zealand by the Australasian Bat Night program.
"The overall aim of the program is, besides raising awareness about bats, is to raise awareness of the issues they are facing," she said.
"We hope to get a better public acceptance of bats as part of our community.
"Bats are here to stay with us in our urban areas - both the little bats and the big bats - but there's a lot of misinformation that's out there in the public domain and I'm sorry to say that it's worse in Queensland than it appears to be anywhere else in Australia."
A colony of bats roosting in the Cairns CBD has been the focus of some controversy recently, with Cairns Regional Council recently mounting a legal challenge to infringements issued over the dispersal methods it employed to remove them.
Tribal elder of the Gimuy Walubara Yidinji people - traditional owners of the Cairns area - Gudju Gudju said people needed to understand that bats are an important part of the ecosystem and without them the rainforest surrounding Cairns would struggle to survive.
"We want people to realise that the bats were here first and we came second," he said.
"Prior to the city being built we had melaleucas and different forms of fig trees in this area so they've been roosting here long before any development or white settlers arrived here."
Gudju Gudju said he hoped the festival would help educate people about bats and show them that they're not to be feared.
"I think at the moment, because of the different Lyssa and Hendra viruses that are around, a lot of people are afraid that they might get bitten and think they'll end up with rabies," he said.
"[We need] a better education system around what the bats do with the environment and how they're actually needed to help pollinate different species of plant life ... whether it be on the coastal environments or up in the highlands environments."
CSIRO research scientist David Westcott said he had been researching flying foxes - one of Australia's largest bat species - for about 15 years and Australia's history with them has been long and chequered.
"Starting from the early 1800s we had reports about flying foxes and if you go back to the old newspapers people were saying 'aren't these wonderful and amazing creatures'," he said.
"But as soon as we planted fruit trees we started seeing reports - about 1830 is when the first ones start coming in - that say 'Flying foxes are terrible things' and ever since then, wherever we've had orchards, flying foxes have been regarded very poorly.
"Our history is that people don't like living near flying foxes, which is interesting because in other parts of the world it's very different."
At present, Mr Westcott said the future of flying foxes in the far north was "not looking good".
"We've seen, over the period of our monitoring [since 2004], a decline in the population in the order of a bit over 50 per cent," he said.
"At this point in time we can't see any change in that trend."