Endangered “invasives” killed

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 2000:

CAPE TOWN, MELBOURNE––With rare Himalayan tahrs and grey-headed flying fox bats already under fire at Table Mountain and being trapped and killed in Fern Gully of the Royal Botanical Gardens, the Domestic Animal Rescue Association of Cape Town, South Africa, and the Victorian Scientific Advisory Committee in Melbourne, Australia, were seeking last-ditch means of pursuing injunctions to stop the killing as ANIMAL PEOPLE went to press.

Each massacre raised the issue of an endangered species in native habitat being seen as invasive elsewhere, despite showing no hint of expanding beyond a narrow range.

Descended from two escaped zoo specimens, the tahrs thrived on Table Mountain after native klipspringers were poached out. They proved so much better at evading human hunters that though the herd, once up to 600, has been reduced to between 70 and 100, they have eluded extermination by Cape Nature Conservation since 1976. CNC believes it must kill all the tahrs before it can successfully reintroduce klipspringers–– who reportedly have already been reintroduced unsuccessfully several times.

A Cape Town doctor reportedly offered his remote estate as a care-for-life sanctuary if the tahrs could be moved, but CNC was not expected to accept the offer. Comments may be faxed to the South African National Parks Board at 12-343-0352.

Scarce throughout Australia, the fruit-eating greyheaded flying fox bats formed only their second colony in Victoria state at the Royal Botanical Gardens in 1981. Their numbers fluctuate from about 4,200 in winter up to 8,000 at the height of breeding season. They inspired the character Batty in the 1992 animated film Fern Gully, but are detested by gardens director Philip Moors and Victoria Department of Natural Resources manager of flora and fauna Robert Begg for eating cultivated vegetation, allegedly killing some trees with their excretions, urinating and defecating on visitors, and resisting ouster––apparently having nowhere else to go.

Animal Liberation and Humane Society International took their plight to the Victorian Scientific Advisory Committee just before the killing began in April. The committee recommended that they be protected as “vulnerable to extinction,” but the process was likely to take at least 60 days.

Comments may be sent to Victoria environment minister Sherryl Garbutt at fax 3-9637-8920 or , and prime minister Steve Bracks, fax 03-

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