This is a delightful little book and I truly wish both it and the attitudes it embodies had been around 25 years ago when I as a teenage living in Australia found a Flying fox that had been shot. We kept it for a few days, feeding it on peaches, before taking it into the vet. It had a broken wing but was otherwise unharmed, however he claimed the wing could not be set and that the animal would be a cripple for the rest of its life. Regretfully we followed his advice and had it put down, Flying foxes were considered vermin by most people in Australia in those days and I was somewhat unusual in seeing something attractive in one. I can easily remember how amazed I was at it furry-mammalness, and its seeming dog or cat level intelligence. I have had a soft spot for flying foxes in my mind ever since and thus I was truly pleased to receive a review copy of this book.
Reading this book was a pure pleasure trip, not only for the concise and pertinent information it supplied the avid informivore within me but also because it is well written with an easily approachable style. It was also a great pleasure to learn that Flying foxes in Australia are now beginning to receive some respect and that their often fundamental importance in the maintenance of many Australian ecosystems is now accepted such that conserving them is rapidly becoming more important than exterminating them.
Flying foxes, Megachiroptera, are megabats, large enough to be considered as food items by many indigenous peoples and certainly large enough to escape the 'creepy' label so many people erroneously apply to their smaller and more prolific cousins the Microchiroptera. Their biology, which is lucidly explained in this book is intimately tied to the native trees they feed on and it is an important step in their conservation that their ecology should be understood. This book, though obviously constrained by the limits of modern scientific understanding, presents the reader with a concise but complete image of the lives and habits of these wonderful, and until recently unfairly persecuted, animals. It is excellently illustrated throughout with B/W photos and drawings by Louise Sanders and has a central section of 26 colour plates depicting a number of species.
Chapter headings are:- 1)Introduction; 2)Historical Background; 3)Identification and Distribution; 4)Anatomy and Physiology; 5)Reproduction and Life Cycle; 6)Mortality and Disease; 7)Behaviour; 8)Diet and Feeding Ecology; 9)Migration; 10)Conservation and Management; 11)Rehabilitation and Rearing; as well as an appendix of "Native plant species known to be consumed by Australian Flying foxes"; a list of references, a glossary and an index.
This document was last updated on the 17th April 1999