Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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Batmobile to the rescue

I was on my bike, a block and a half into my monthly (March) deliveries of the South Sydney Herald around my home in the Waterloo public housing estate walk-ups, when I noticed a bat struggling on its back on the sidewalk. I’d never been this close to a bat before, and had no idea what to do, and Siri turned out to be useless as always, and I was stressing out, so I zoomed back home to gather my thoughts and access the internet for help.

A Google search for wildlife rescue gave me a 24-hour number to call, and the call was put out over the volunteer networks to see who could help. I walked back to where the bat was, with a milk crate, to use as a stop sign. Worried about the sunlight moving around the tree shading him, I found a cardboard box to give him a little more shadow.

A woman called to say she was a bat rescuer and on her way from Balmain, so I agreed to wait, and for about half an hour warned passersby to steer clear of the injured creature.

Then, I saw the Batmobile in real life, huge flying fox painted on it, and the YouTube tag of *Megabattie*, a dedicated volunteer rescuer of winged mammals. The driver introduced herself (her real name is Meg) and took control, scooping up the bat with a special cloth arrangement. She was wearing special protective clothing and knew exactly what she was doing, but this is a good time to point out that bats are wild animals carrying rabies and other things nasty for humans, so don’t try this at home.

She asked if it was okay to video, but I didn’t realise how she did this, until she told me about the tiny camera in her headgear and referred me to her YouTube channel, where viewers sometimes throw in a dollar to cover her petrol and such.

The bat was given some nectar from a dropper and some saline for his eyes, which is common treatment, Meg told me, for stranded bats who spent some time in wide-eyed alertness, dehydrating their eyes. The bat was able to move its feet, so spine probably okay, but she thought him concussed. It may be that with a bit of time and safe space to recover, he’ll be fine.

Of course, not all injured wildlife can be saved, but even if he ends up euthanised, he’ll have a happier outcome than being left to clumsy pedestrians, dogs or wild predators. In short order he was bundled into a special cage and put in the Batmobile, and taken to the bat cave, or at least, a bat aviary.

Megabattie is one of many mostly unsung heroes who volunteer their time and expertise to rescue wildlife. The very next day, I saw a Facebook post from my sister on the outskirts of Perth, who feeds a pack of wild kangaroos every day. One of the roos had an infection, from a barbwire cut apparently, so she sought aid from a local wildlife carers organisation. She is now feeding him antibiotics in banana, so he’ll be fine soon, but of course untreated this simple infection would have been fatal.

We cause so much damage to wildlife with our occupation and disruption of their habitat, so the least we can do is give them the benefits of our presence (eg. emergency medical care) as well.

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