Adelaide’s extreme heat kills thousands of chickens and bats

chickens peck at food in a bowl, next to white dog looking sad at the cameraPhoto: Chooks feed at an Adelaide farm which lost thousands of birds in the heat. (Supplied: Adelaide Hills Pastured Eggs)

Temperatures have cooled across South Australia after a wave of extreme heat but the change has come too late for thousands of animals — including those at a chicken farm and a city bat colony.

Key points:

  • An Adelaide Hills chicken farm lost more than half its flock during the heat
  • Temperatures soared to 46.6C in Adelaide on Thursday
  • Thousands of bats dropped dead in Adelaide’s parklands

Last week the state endured three consecutive days of temperatures in the high 30s and high 40s, which proved too much for flying foxes in Adelaide’s parklands.

An Adelaide Hills chicken farm was also devastated by the extreme heat, losing more than half of its flock of 2,000 birds.

Adelaide Hills Pastured Eggs owner Adam Oaten said despite all the measures taken to keep the birds cool, overnight temperatures were just too hot.

“It’s a very catastrophic blow to our business. We have customers that rely on us through retail and food outlets so we’ll just have to monitor our egg production now and see who we can supply to,” he said.

“To replace these girls will take approximately $15,000 but we are trying to do it in stages to get our numbers back up.”

On Thursday, Adelaide recorded a top of 46.6 degrees Celsius — topping the previous capital city record of 46.4C set in Melbourne in 2009.

More than 20 locations in South Australia hit record temperatures, with the mercury climbing to 49.5C in Port Augusta.

Chickens graze in a grassy field.Photo: The farm had 2,000 chickens but that has been cut by more than half. (Supplied: Adelaide Hills Pastured Eggs)

Mr Oaten said it was not a pleasant task to bury so many chickens, and even his Maremma dog Tom seemed upset.

“We had a delivery of younger chooks only six weeks ago and they were just coming on the lay and unfortunately the heat affected them as well, so it wasn’t just older chooks,” he said.

“It brought a lot of tears. My partner was in the paddock crying. It wasn’t a nice time and I’m tearing up now.”

He said he did everything he could to keep the chickens cool.

“We sprayed the ground with water, we’ve got shade trees, their water is always covered to keep it cool,” Mr Oaten said.

“A chook, when she gets hot, will pant, so we use a special additive in their feed that allows them to process protein better and allows them to mitigate against hot conditions much better.

“These animals are more than just a means to an end for us. We love them and we’re trying to produce a great product, so it’s just devastating that it’s happened.”

Thousands of dead bats drop from trees

A dead bat lies on the ground.Photo: Many of the bats fell from the trees, unable to take the heat. (ABC News: Carl Saville)

Adelaide’s bat colony has flourished in recent years, but was devastated by the heat.

Fauna Rescue SA said while the number of dead bats was still being counted, at least 1,500 grey-headed flying foxes dropped from the trees in Adelaide’s Botanic Park, in the parklands and along the banks of the River Torrens.

The organisation’s flying fox coordinator Sue Westover said this was the largest number of dead bats she had seen.

“Two days of 40C, followed by a 46C day — we knew it wasn’t going to be good,” she said.

“We bought a lot of extra spraying equipment so that we could spray the low down ones in the heat to try and give them some fluids.

“By the end of the weekend, we’re probably looking at having lost between 2,000 and 3,000 bats.”

The Environment Department, Botanic Gardens, Adelaide Zoo and Adelaide City Council are also helping to deal with the situation.

Ms Westover said about 100 orphan bats had been brought into care over the past few days.

“All of the deaths have been grey-headed flying foxes, which are actually classed as a vulnerable species now, so this is actually quite devastating,” she said.

“They disperse the seeds, and also pollen which creates new tree growth, new forest growth. Basically without the flying foxes helping to spread everything we won’t have trees.

“The highest number [of deaths] before we’ve had was around 600 bats a few years ago in the heatwave.”

Bats can carry lyssavirus. People have been urged to keep their distance from them and contact Fauna Rescue SA if they require assistance.


Meet the world’s biggest fish – the whale shark.

Despite its massive size, it feeds mostly on plankton. The distribution of whale sharks indicates the presence of plankton and the overall health of our oceans, which we heavily depend on. Read on to discover more.

The whale shark is the largest shark and indeed the largest of any fish alive today. While the maximum size of this species is not known, they can reach the length of a school bus!

These gentle marine giants roam across the tropical oceans of the world, generally alone. However, large numbers of whale sharks often gather in areas with abundant plankton food—making them prime tourist attractions. Because whale sharks feed on plankton, they will travel large distances to find enough food to sustain their huge size, and to reproduce.

Their white spotted colouration makes these gentle giants easy to distinguish, and are popular with snorkelers and divers at sites where they gather off the coast.

However, the whale shark is facing big challenges today. 

These majestic creatures, which are an IUCN endangered species, are at risk from being caught as bycatch and struck by ships, and are still hunted in some parts of the world for their fins and meat.

Poorly managed whale shark tourism also presents a threat to the species as it may interrupt their feeding and sharks can be injured by boat propellers, highlighting the importance of responsible tourism practices.

To secure the future of this species and safeguard the health of our oceans, WWF is working to protect whale sharks.

WWF experts continue to study shark habits and gather information in the Coral Triangle on individual sharks by using satellite tags, sonar devices, and digital cameras to create further protection for whale sharks. In addition, we support whale shark studies to learn more about the population, their habitat use and migratory pathways in the waters surrounding Mafia Island, Coastal East Africa.

As the world celebrates Whale Shark Day on 30th August, discover how you too can play a part for nature and whale sharks.

How you can help

Whale Shark video

The whale shark is the biggest fish and shark in the world. These gentle marine giants roam the oceans around the globe, generally alone. However, large numbers of whale sharks often gather in areas with abundant plankton food.

Discover more about WWF’s work

Our mission is to stop the degradation of our planet’s natural environment, and build a future in which people live in harmony with nature. Find out how we aim to achieve this through our nine global goals.
WWF’s work


It’s now an inescapable reality: climate change is here.

This is a turning point, but there’s still time to act. In a month’s time, people in Australia and around the world will demand a Fossil Free future. On every continent we will stand together and say — enough is enough.
As temperatures rise, so do we.

Support #RiseForClimate on September 8. has  just released a video on climate impacts people are facing around the world right now. Watch and SHARE it and let’s get people making the links between rising temperatures and extreme weather, climate change, and what they can do.

Share the #RiseForClimate video on Facebook.

The extreme heat experienced around the world over the past few weeks has broken untold records. Lives have been tragically lost in heat waves in Japan and wildfires in Greece1, 2, whilst Ouargla in North Africa reached a staggering 51.3C and unprecedented fires have burned across the Arctic circle3, 4. California has experience the world’s hottest rain ever recorded and is in the grip of the largest and most expensive wildfire the state has ever seen.5, 6

In Australia, we continue to see the devastating impacts of drought and its impact on our farmers and their livestock. Malcolm Turnbull has finally admitted this drought is linked to climate change… even if he’s not going to do anything about it.

But we are. We’re going to Rise and demand more from local leaders all over the world.

Will YOU Rise with us? 

Your support will help us achieve over 30 actions and events around Australia on September 8 calling on decision-makers locally for commitments on climate change.

Here is just  some of what is in store:

  • In Sydney, people will sail through the harbour and call for climate action;
  • In Canberra, a rally with a dinosaur theme demanding the federal government stop putting the ‘coal’ in COALition;
  • In Brisbane the Pacific Island community will hold a festival calling on the Brisbane City Council to divest from fossil fuels and move to #StopAdani;
  • Darwin will focus on the threat of fracking in the Northern Territory;
  • And in Coffs Harbour, watch for the “Big Sun” symbolising a 100% renewables future in front of the Big Banana.

There will be many more!

Climate scientists have been taken aback by the severity of the heatwave we’ve seen these past weeks, but “hothouse earth” is not our destiny – if we act now.7

Bold action on climate change couldn’t be more urgent. But whilst we’re starting to see a shift in climate leadership from national governments — like the Irish government divesting from fossil fuels last month8, the pace is painfully slow.

So that’s why 350 is working with organisations around the world to call on local decision-makers everywhere  to take a lead in building the Fossil Free future we need. Local leaders can do their part to keep fossil fuels in the ground, demand an end to new coal, oil and gas projects like Adani and build a just, 100% renewably-powered future.

They can, and they have to.

Together, let’s Rise for Climate Action!

In solidarity,

Andrew, for the 350 Australia team


1) Japan heatwave: Death toll climbs to 80

2) Extreme heat, wildfires and the cost of climate change

3) It Was Absurdly Hot in North Africa Yesterday

4) There Are Wildfires Burning in the Arctic Circle Amid Sweden’s Record-Breaking Heat Wave

5) Largest wildfire in California history to burn for rest of August

6) World’s hottest rain fell in California, setting new record

7) Terrified by ‘hothouse Earth’? Don’t despair — do something.

8) Irish parliament makes history with vote to divest country fully from fossil fuels

Captivating footage of the the release of a whale entrapped in netting

This is a wonderful video well worth watching!

Who’s looking out for the Ugly stuff? We are!

Some of Australia’s (no Earth’s) biggest celebs have come to the party to help the Wilderness Society spark a conversation about biodiversity.

Biodiversity — isn’t that boring?

No way! Especially when it’s sung by Rosario Dawson in a bug suit, with a cast of critters voiced by Cate Blanchett, Joel Edgerton, Claudia O’Doherty and more. So many wonderful people have given their time to make this music video happen, Diane. We want you to be first to see it.

Save Ugly is aimed squarely at the mainstream. We want all Australians to think about the intact ecosystems that make our living world go round — the very ecosystems Wilderness Society supporters like you have spent 40 years battling for.

We think you’ll agree, Diane, the story’s never been told quite like this before.

The creatures in this video are connected to work we do every day. Look out for the Mary River Turtle, whose habitat we played a role in saving from a proposed dam. And the South-Eastern Long-Eared Bat, which faces likely extinction if gas expansion goes ahead in the Pilliga.

Please watch the video and share it with all who’ll appreciate it. You can help spread the word.

Team Ugly
The Wilderness Society