The Combination of Flying-Foxes Starving Due to Heavy Constant Rain, Resorting to Eating Toxic Cocos Palm Fruit Which is Causing the Death of Many Flying-Foxes

Janine Davies from Wildlife Rescue South Coast was interviewed on ABC Radio & Ulladulla Times (4 April 2022) reported the following:

Ms Davies said the recent intense rainfall which battered the South Coast has caused the bats main source of food, Eucalypt pollen & nectar to wash away. This has forced starving animals to resort to eating toxic fruit grown on Cocos Palm trees. 

When Cocos Palm fruit is developing and ripening, it is highly toxic and it kills the flying-foxes. As Janine Davies said Grey-headed Flying-foxes, already listed as 'vulnerable', could be pushed closer to extinction with another threat to add to list of many threats such as powerline electrocutions, barbed wire and inappropriate fruit tree netting, all introduced by humans, which are killing these wonderful animals on a regular basis.

Solutions are available for all the 'threatening processes' listed above, such as Bundled insulated cable, Barbed Wire is unnecessary because alternative Wildlife Friendly Fencing is available, Wildlife Friendly Netting is widely sold and Cocos palms can be removed and recommended Native Palm species substituted. 

However, none of these solutions are undertaken, by the relevant Authorities, on a scale required to protect Australian wildlife, which is frustrating and heartbreaking for Wildlife Carers.

Without Flying-foxes, many species of animals such as koalas, other mammals, birds, insects, including humans, would be impacted by the extinction of Australia's pollinators and the reduction of diversity of Eucalypt trees in Australian forests.

Cocos Palm, also known as Queen Palm, is an environmental weed which is invading our bushland and poses a threat to our native wildlife.

(Sutherland Shire Council, 'Cocos Palm' Fact Sheet, 1 September 2018)).

The Cocos Palm is native to South America and has been widely planted throughout Australia as a popular street and garden tree due to its resilience and tropical appearance.


Every year many native birds and animals are impacted by Cocos Palms. 

Injuries to wildlife can occur in a number of ways:

• Sticky palm fruits can cause severe constipation;

leading to dehydration (in younger animals).

• Unripe Cocos Palm fruits can be toxic to native animals when eaten leading to death.

• Native animals can become caught in the palm’s strappy frond leaves, and birds and bats may

damage their delicate wings on the flower spikes.

• Native birds and animals may come down to ground level to eat dropped fruit, increasing their

vulnerability to attack from dogs and cats.


In Sutherland Shire, Cocos Palms may be removed without Council approval. This ruling may also apply to other local Councils.

• Cut down fruits when they are unripe and green. This will reduce the risk of pets and animals

ingesting toxic berries and prevent germination.

Fruits can also be removed when they are orange and ripe.

• All fruit and trimmings should be disposed of in Council-supplied green waste bins. 


There are many great native alternatives to Cocos Palms, several of which also offer a safe and natural

food source for local wildlife. 

For example:

Native Australian Trees will create a wildlife-friendly garden and bring pleasure to the human inhabitants and to the visiting birds, flying-foxes, possums and to a variety of insect, lizards and spider species as well.

Suggestions of Native Palms and Australian Native Trees Frequented by Wildlife are as Follows:

Cabbage Tree Palm, Bangalow Palm, Alexander Palm.

Callistemon (bottlebrush), Grevillea, Lilly Pilly and Melaleuca (paperbark) trees.

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