The Cocos palm is a South-American palm used to be a popular garden and street tree for its fast growth and tropical appearance. It is proving deadly to native wildlife. WIRES were called to Casino when a local noticed a the local currawongs swooping something stuck high in a palm tree. It was a Grey-headed flying-fox which had become entangled in the palm fronds. This species is classified as vulnerable to extinction on the Federal Threatened Species list.
Starving bats are attracted to the green seeds of the Cocos palm as well as the palm fronds which can provide a feed of insects such as lerps. The fronds become split and stringy, creating a trap for entanglement.
Local wildlife carers were unable to reach the bat with ladders and Steve Cubis of Steve Cubis Tree Services came to the rescue, travelling with his vehicle from Lismore to assist. Unfortunately the flying fox died just before being rescued.
‘This was the second death of a bat caught in Cocos palms in a single day,’ said a spokesperson for WIRES.
The Cocos palm ‘is now regarded as an environmental weed due to its rapid spread into bushland and its harmful effect on many species of wildlife. The fruit can be toxic for animals and the fibrous seeds can create gut obstruction as well as become wedged in the teeth of animals, preventing further intake of food.’
You can help wildlife on a local level by removing any Cocos palm trees you may have in your yard. Hand pull or chip seedlings that come up around the base of trees and pick up dead fruit and dispose of them thoughtfully. Encouraging your friends and family to do the same. Before cutting down any mature palm trees please call WIRES NR hotline on 66281898 for advice as possums and gliders may be nesting in the crown of the palm.
An all-volunteer organisation, WIRES relies heavily on the generosity of caring people for support. All donations $2 and over are tax deductible. Now is also a great time to join WIRES and start learning to be a wildlife rescuer. Our 24-hour hotline is for all rescue, advice or membership calls in the Northern Rivers – call 6628 1898 or goto find out how you can help.