Dr Les Hall, OAM
This is a tribute to a man who inspired thousands, lived his life to the full right to the end and left behind a legacy that inspires and excites.
Dr Les Hall OAM passed away in early February 2019 Dr Hall was awarded an AM in the Order of Australia in the 2017 Queen’s Birthday List ‘for significant service to veterinary science as a specialist in the area of bat biology, and as an academic, researcher and mentor’.
Below you will find some wonderful reminders of who this man was.
Dr Les Hall and Steve Parrish.
A public talk on flying foxes by Les Hall is available on YouTube:
For bat lovers, Les was a guiding light and mentor over the years, effortlessly educating the masses on the weird and wonderful features of bats.
Les was at the forefront of bat research, having studied them for over 40 years. He was a consultant for the orchard grower association complaints against flying foxes in the 70’s, was involved in early Hendra virus detection and research, worked in the Division of Wildlife Research for the CSIRO, was an animal welfare advisor on dispersal programs around the country and developed novel techniques for management, such as the canopy-mounted sprinkler system currently used by Sunshine Coast Council. Although his passion for conservation was mainly focused in Australia, and his local community in Maleny, he also spread his knowledge internationally. He was a member of the IUCN Chiropteran Specialist Group, an advisor for Bat Conservation International and trained many budding zoologists in Borneo. Right to the end, Les was still involved in bat research, as one of the advisors to the Australasian Bat Society Flying Fox Expert Group.
He was also a very talented artist and author, illustrating many Australian animal field guides, producing several books and providing illustrations and information in The Magic of Mary Cairncross for his favourite Sunshine Coast location. He was a great educator, lecturing human and veterinary anatomy and conservation biology at the University of Queensland for 26 years.
Les Hall was a true gentleman of conservation and the original bat superhero long before the man in the black cape came along. His passing is a monumental loss for flying-fox conservation, education and management, and I do not think it is an overstatement to say that his passing is a greater loss to flying-fox conservation than any heat event could ever be. He will be greatly missed but his legacy will be continued through the research and work of flying-fox experts across the country. Dr Les Hall was a truly exceptional man whose contribution to conservation will forever be appreciated.
[Source: https://www.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au/Environment/Education-Resources-and-Events/Environment-Resources-and-Publications/Native-Animals/Flying-Foxes/Flying-fox-community-news-April-2019 -- 31 October 2019 update]
From HT (Hinterland Times), 4 November 2010:
THE HINTERLAND’S most renowned natural scientist, zoologist Dr Les Hall has won a prestigious Whitley Award from the Royal Zoological Society of NSW for his pocket guide –Bats – published with photographer, Steve Parish.
Les Hall has spent an academic lifetime studying bats both here and in bat-rich Borneo where he has trained many budding zoologists in that country. He is passionate about raising the public profile of bats which have received a battering in recent years with the emergence of the Hendra and Lyssa viruses attributed to the country-wide flying fox.
Les says the public fear and wariness of bats goes back centuries when bats were associated with vampires and Dracula and witches brews. “Most people have always been fearful of these black leathery things that fly around at night”, he says.
Yandina Community Gardens 2018
This will be a fabulous and enlightening morning. Come and be immersed in our native wildlife with Dr Les Hall and Terri Ridgeway from Bat Rescue. Les will start the morning talking about the lives of Echidnas, Bandicoots, Brush Turkeys and Flying-foxes and how they interact with humans. Terri Ridgeway will then give a talk on how to rescue and handle Flying-foxes and other wildlife (with a live Flying-fox). The last part of the morning will be another talk by Les on the amazing world of bats, including a section on Flying-fox management.
Dr Les Hall retired to Maleny in 2001 after a career with the CSIRO, Division of Wildlife Research, and The University of Queensland. Although Les has a strong interest in birds, mammals and wildlife, in general, he is especially passionate about bats. Educating people about the important role bats play in our environment and dispelling misconceptions surrounding bats have been major aspects of his professional career. He has authored numerous scientific papers and books about Australian wildlife. His latest books include The Natural History of Australian Bats – Working the Night Shift and A Field Guide to Australian Mammals.
From HT (Hinterland Times), 3 January 2017:
This is a story that writer Dale Jacobsen felt strongly about. She describes Dr Les Hall as an understated man, and yet he is one of Australia’s important scientists. Les lives right here in Maleny and has just released a book that shares his love of Aussie animals.
In the cool of a Maleny summer evening, we gathered at the Pallet Life Gallery Café to sip wine and chat with one of Maleny’s unsung conservationists as he launched his book.
The story of the Field Guide to Australian Mammals, so long in the making, is a story of a long friendship, and a collaboration between two men at the top of their game: naturalist, Dr Les Hall and nature photographer, Steve Parish OAM.
Les is a very modest man, quietly involved in many conservation issues, particularly on the Blackall Range, but he is also highly qualified. For 26 years he lectured in human and veterinary anatomy and conservation biology at the University of Queensland, where he supervised 23 post graduate students.
Prior to this, he was employed by the Division of Wildlife Research in CSIRO, Canberra. In 2015, he was awarded the Natural History Medallion by the Queensland Naturalist Club for his contributions to our knowledge of Australian mammals.
Les grew up bushwalking and exploring caves, where he first came across micro bats, setting the course of his life in science. “I was taught well,” he said. “My parents insisted that every animal has a proper name and I needed to learn these names.”
When he retired to Maleny in 2001, Les took on the ambitious task of writing about his first love, bats, which he had studied for the past 40 years. But he also holds a wide interest in all Australian mammals.
Les first met Steve in 2006 when he was looking for somewhere to house his vast collection of photos. He had sent his slides to the Photographic Index of Australian Wildlife, run by the Australian Museum, but he was keen to find somewhere to store the photos where they would be useful.
The collection was the result of long field trips into remote places over many years, and contained rare images, mostly of bats. The museum suggested he contact Steve Parish, as he had the facilities to store the images.
“I thought: Steve Parish, he’s that famous wildlife photographer who likes koalas and wallabies, but he probably doesn’t have any bat photos.”
The two set off on a field trip throughout Australia; Les seeking all forms of bats in out-of-the-way places, dragging Steve and his camera gear into some narrow, almost inaccessible caves filled with guano. A true test of dedication to the cause.
During that trip, they photographed over 30 species of bats and formed a bond that has lasted and produced some very important productions. The pair then began work on an impressive tome to be called Mammals of Australia.
“Then the world financial crisis hit, affecting the publishing industry pretty hard, followed by floods that destroyed much of Steve’s materials,” explained Les.
“We thought that was the end of the book. But Pascal Press, an education publisher who bought out the Steve Parish brand, came across the preparation we had done for the book and phoned me, much to my surprise.
“They said that a mammal book would fit very neatly into their series that includes Michael Morcombe’s Field Guide to Australian Birds, and they wanted me to select which mammals to include for the guide.
“Most of my research had ended up in scientific journals,” said Les. “This is good for scientists, but I wanted to reach the general public—to tell interesting little bits of information.
“For example, the Tasmanian devil… In breeding season, the female ovulates 50 eggs. About 20 are fertilised and born, but usually only one or two attach to a teat. Do you know what happens to the rest of them? She eats them!”
This is the sort of interesting tidbit that is contained in the very readable field guide. Les says, “Something I’m very passionate about is giving wildlife a chance before it is faced with extinction.”
There is an obvious mutual respect between Les and Steve. Steve says going into the field with Les is like taking a CD-ROM with you. “He is unique in the world of scientists.
“He knows just about everything there is to know about so many things and he connects with people—even bat haters.
“My belief is that science plus emotion equals connection. Les brings the science; I bring the emotion. Hopefully this allows people to make a connection to the natural world. It is an honour to have worked with such a bat man.”
Bat biologist Les Hall on the creatures of the night
Friday 25 October 2013
Bat biologist Les Hall has lived among bats and his research has taken him to some very odd places.
Les Hall developed his love of birds from his father, and a boss at the CSIRO later introduced him to the wonder of bats.
There are almost 1000 different species of bats on earth.
They range from the bumblebee bat from Thailand at 1.5 grams, to the large flying foxes of Australia with wingspans of longer than 1.5 metres.
Les has co-authored a book with his long-time colleague Dr Greg Richards: The Natural History of Australian Bats: Working the Night Shift published by CSIRO Publishing