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Learning English - Words in the News
05 March, 2008 - Published 14:59 GMT
Sydney's war on flying foxes
Flying fox

Sydney's Royal Botanic Gardens is to wage war on grey-headed flying foxes. These super bats have invaded one of Australia's most famous public spaces. Officials have said the animals are destroying trees and have to move on. This report from Phil Mercer reports:

Listen to the story

These unwanted guests at Sydney's Royal Botanic Gardens look like tiny foxes with wings. Officials had estimated there are about 11,000 of them roosting in the picturesque harbour-side park. After inspecting damage to dozens of trees they now believe there are twice as many as previously thought. Branches have been snapping under the weight of these furry invaders and droppings have been poisoning plants.

Help may well be at hand, however, in the shape of the humble dustbin. The botanic gardens' executive director Dr. Tim Entwistle hopes the jarring sounds of crashing bin lids will agitate the flying foxes and force them to move on:

TIM ENTWISTLE: 'The way to disturb them is to use noises, so we've used banging of rubbish bins in the past. But you can also use speakers as long as you move the noise around, and what we'll do is have a series of noises, start and end of the day, do that over a couple of weeks and what we've found in the past, we actually get the flying foxes to leave the gardens and go somewhere else.'

The grey-headed flying-fox is Australia's largest bat. It cruises around at night using its eyes and a powerful sense of smell to search for fruit and flowers. Officials at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney have said they're optimistic the unwelcome colony can be uprooted. If and when the bats do move to other parts of the city they will of course then become someone else's problem.

Phil Mercer, BBC News, Sydney

Listen to the words

unwanted guests
usually means people coming to your house who you haven't invited. Here, means the Gardens didn't want the animals to stay there

(of birds) resting, sleeping or making their homes

Branches have been snapping
Parts of a tree (which grow out of the main body of it) have been breaking

furry invaders
hairy creatures which weren't wanted or welcome

droppings have been poisoning plants
flowers and vegetation have been polluted and killed by the bats' faeces or solid waste matter

large container for rubbish or garbage usually made of plastic and kept outside houses or buildings

the jarring sounds
the noises which are annoying and not nice to hear

amplifiers, devices which transmit sounds at an increased volume or louder than they are naturally

moves or flies at a steady, continuous pace or speed

a powerful sense of smell
a very strong ability to use its nose to find and detect things

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