Hundreds of flying foxes have perished during Australia’s searingly hot summer, according to environmentalists.
Shocked campaigners were confronted by the sight of scores of dead animals, and claimed the creatures were "boiled alive" in the heat.
Some flying foxes were still hanging from trees as they died, in a shock mass death which campaigners called "dreadful and heartbreaking".
The Help Save the Wildlife and Bushlands in Campbelltown campaign wrote on Facebook that temperatures hit over 44C in the Campbelltown district of Sydney, and that over 400 of the animals died.
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Sydney reached a nearly 80-year temperature high of 47.3C on Sunday.
The campaign wrote: "So many little lives lost due to the extreme heat and not enough canopy cover to shade them or keep them cool.
"Adults sought out shade and more shelter further up the creek resulting in many babies being left behind to deal with the heat."
People who live in the area are being urged to watch out for flying foxes which may be suffering heat stress, as those which are often move further to the ground, and to call local wildlife rescue services.
Volunteer Cate Ryan told local media: "It was unbelievable. I saw a lot of dead bats on the ground and others were close to the ground and dying. I have never seen anything like it before."
A local wildlife rescue group advised: "If the flying-fox is on the ground and it’s a hot day, you can place a cool towel or umbrella above it until the rescuer arrives to protect it from the the worst of the heat.
Spraying the animal intermittently with a very light mist or setting up a sprinkler to gently wet the animal can also help."
Flying foxes are big bats and eat nectar, pollen and fruit. Unlike smaller bats, they do not use sonar and instead, like humans, use their eyes and ears.
The Help Save the Wildlife and Bushlands in Campbelltown campaign said "Flying foxes are intelligent and remarkable. These unique animals help regenerate our forests and keep ecosystems healthy through pollination and seed dispersal. They are a migratory and nomadic ‘keystone’ species; meaning a species that many other species of plants and animals rely upon for their survival and wellbeing.
Flying foxes, like bees, help drive biodiversity, and faced with the threat of climate change, land clearing, and other human-caused ecological pressures, we need them more than ever."
The Australian heatwave featured temperatures which melted the bitumen on the highway, as well as sparking bushfires which politicians warned were a danger to life.