Environment Levy Flying-fox project on the 2016 classroom agenda
  • Monday 12 September 2016

Grade 5 and 6 Queensland state school students will soon be Flying-fox tracking experts thanks to Queensland Education adding Sunshine Coast Council’s pioneering Flying-fox Tracking Project to this year’s curriculum resources.

Environment Portfolio Councillor Jenny McKay said that since launching the Environment Levy-funded project in April 2015, council had already achieved a far greater educational outcome than imagined.

“As well as the Flying-fox Tracking Project being included in the curriculum materials for all grade 5 and 6 state schools and a number of private schools in Queensland and Canberra, the project now features in the national curriculum database,” Cr McKay said.

“This means any teacher across the country can pick the project material up and include it in their class. 

“The curriculum teaches students about the process of tracking and attaching collars to Flying-foxes, how to use and import the data collected as well as ways to create their own tracking map.”

Assistant Director-General, State Schools – Performance Leanne Nixon said council’s Flying-fox Tracking Project was an exciting new addition to the 2016 curriculum resources

“We were looking for innovative new ways digital technologies were being utilised for wildlife conservation as part of a program package for year 5 and 6, and council’s new tracking project fitted the criteria perfectly,” she said. 

“I’m confident that children will enjoy and benefit from the new curriculum resources on a number of levels – from better understanding the protected Flying-fox species to learning how to interact and engage with the tracking data and live mapping processes.”

Cr McKay said all residents, not just the students taking this class, could keep up-to-date with the Flying-fox Tracking Project data simply by downloading a popular animal app to their smart phone.

“Council is excited to have the tracking data for all 10 Flying-foxes released in April with satellite transmitters now live on the ‘Animal Tracker’ App and accessible by anyone around the world,” she said.

“Our Flying-fox Tracking Project is the first project in Australia to feature on the app, which enables everyone to learn about Flying-foxes in local habitats and how they move in and out of our local region.

“Residents can access and follow in real time the live mapping tracking data that council is using to inform and improve Flying-fox management in the region.”

Implementation of council’s Environment Levy assists to protect and enhance environmentally significant land, deliver on-ground actions, build our environmental knowledge, and engage and support the Sunshine Coast community.

 The project – fast facts:

  • In April 2015, council became the first local government in Queensland to deploy satellite tracking technology to monitor Black Flying-foxes.
  • Ten Black Flying-foxes were captured from a relatively new roost at Coolum Beach, which formed following another camp’s dispersal nearby.
  • With full ethics approval and in partnership with CSIRO, the trackers were fitted while the Flying-foxes were under anaesthetic. CSIRO scientists took blood samples, measurements and other vital information about the animal’s biology.
  • Trackers are switched on for 10 hours every two days. They weigh in at just 9.5g, making up less than 5% of the animal’s body weight. Solar panels are positioned to allow charging while the Flying-foxes hang upside down.