Bat relocation good for business
Business owners in Ingham’s CBD are breathing a sigh of relief following the successful relocation of the urban flying fox roost at Ingham Memorial Gardens.
The relocation has quickly seen an improvement in trading conditions and operations for many businesses, in addition to an immediate increase in visitation to the gardens.
Businesses are reporting that daily cleaning of bat guano has ceased and that staff and customers are no longer being subjected to unreasonable noise and unbearable odour from the colony.
Operators in the immediate vicinity of the previous camp are also pleased to have the option of opening windows to allow fresh air into their premises – instead of running expensive air-conditioners all day – and anecdotal evidence suggests that attitudes and community pride in this space have improved.
Chamber is pleased to see that Council has commenced a long overdue clean-up of the Botanical Gardens and hopes to see a subsequent activation of the surrounding area.
Reports of locals and visitors using the gardens and enjoying lunch in the relaxed and beautiful setting have inspired confidence that Ingham’s CBD is once again an attractive and appealing location to visitors, with many wondering if the site will once again be used as a backdrop for wedding photos and family get-togethers.
With flying foxes now inhabiting roost sites in their natural environment, including TYTO Wetlands, members of the community are also questioning whether the animals that were once regarded a blight on the shire could now be marketed as a tourism drawcard.
Biodiversity Australia advised attendees at a recent information session that the Ingham relocation was so successful due to the abundance of suitable alternative roost locations around the district, with TYTO being identified as especially appropriate due to the fact that it was regarded as an historical roost site.
TYTO is already considered a bird sanctuary and tourism destination that appeals to nature-lovers, birdwatchers and photographers, leading locals to comment on its capacity to expand its eco-tourism and edu-tourism potential to include flying fox observation and awareness.
These types of opportunities are in stark contrast to other communities that lacked the capacity to effectively relocate urban roosts or in other case studies, took differing approaches to their urban flying fox populations.
Townships without the ample alternate roost sites that Hinchinbrook Shire possesses have previously been encouraged to cultivate environments similar to TYTO, requiring significant investments of time and money into the exercise.
Others have suffered an economic downturn following the removal of trees from their parks and community areas.
Hinchinbrook Shire, however, appears well positioned to effectively manage its flying fox population into the future and bounce back from the ‘plague proportion’ scenes that have flooded the media in recent times.
Whether the community opts to turn lemons into lemonade by developing a flying fox tourism product remains to be seen, but in the meantime locals seem content to breathe deeply without holding their noses.