In August 2004 HERG team members Elizabeth Chamberlin and Samuel Veloz, University of California, Amanda McLaughlin, Tufts University, and Craig Smith, Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, conducted a disease surveillance operation in central Queensland, Australia. The operation was targeted at a colony of little red flying foxes roosting amongst mangroves in South Tress Inlet, south of Gladstone. Photo: C. Smith.
The primary goal of the operation was to ascertain the prevalence of antibodies to Hendra virus within the population and attempt to isolate any virus that might be present. Eighty four little red flying fox pups, born only 3 months before, where caught, sampled and safely released over several nights. A small blood sample, urogenital and oral swabs where taken to allow HERG team members at the Australian Animal Health Laboratory to test for the presence of antibodies and virus. These results will be used by HERG team member Dr Raina Plowright, PhD student University of California, to study the prevalence of Hendra virus in little red flying foxes and understand how the virus maintains itself within flying fox populations. Photo: C. Smith.
Both Elizabeth and Samuel also collected information during the operation to assist with their PhD projects. Elizabeth collected hair samples from the flying foxes which will be analysed for naturally occurring radio isotopes, these isotopes will used to identify what regions within Australia the flying foxes have inhabited within the previous 6 months. Samuel performed flora surveys throughout the region and will use satellite imagery to determine the presence of flowering eucalypts, the preferred food source for the little red flying fox, which will assist in predicting the movement patterns of the little red flying fox. Photo: C. Smith.
Take a virtual tour of South Trees Inlet. Place your cursor on a waypoint on the map below for information and click for picture. Waypoints of interest include panoramas (4 and 27), primary trap site (28), secondary trap sites (5 and 29) and a little red flying fox pup (20). Map: C. Smith.
Whilst in central Queensland, HERG team members received assistance from flying fox rehabilitators Suzanne and Henry Grzegorski and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service Senior Wildlife Ranger Tim Farry and Wildlife Ranger Graeme Russell. Tim and Graeme are currently surveying flying fox colonies which will soon be protected under the state Flying Fox Conservation Plan. Photo: C. Smith.
Author: C. Smith.