Friday Fellow: Mauritius Fruit Bat

by Piter Kehoma Boll

So I decided to start a new category of posts here called “Friday Fellow” (yeah, kind of a silly name, but I couldn’t figure anything better!). Every friday I’ll try to bring you one interesting species among our earthling “biosiblings” and talk a bit about it.

The first one to be presented is a nice and cute guy from Mauritius, the so called Mauritius fruit bat or Mauritius flying fox (Pteropus niger).

Mauritius fruit bat (Pteropus niger). Photo extracted from batconservacy.org

However, despite its cuteness, it is the last survivor of the Mascarene-endemic fruit bats and is facing a high risk of extinction. The country has a law to protect them, but (guess what?) fruit growers from the Islands are pressing the Mauritian government to amend that law so that it would allow “culling quotas” to control the bat’s population size, reducing so the “depredation caused to fruit crops”.

Pteropus niger is already listed as an endangered species by IUCN and if its protection is not enforced instead of amended it can in fact became extinct. It’s sad to watch people concerned only about their own problems, trying to fix them in the easiest way, without looking at the aftermath that comes from it. The Mauritius fruit bat its the largest surviving frugivore in the island, having a central role to disperse seeds. Instead of simply hunting it down, the government and fruit growers should realize that protecting the bat’s natural environment (the forests) would let it have plenty of food to consume without looking for it in fruit crops.

Let’s hope that this story will have a happy ending.

– – –

References:

Florens, F. B. V. 2012. Going to Bat for an Endangered Species. Science, 336 (6085), 1102 DOI: 10.1126/science.336.6085.1102-a

IUCN Red List:Pteropus niger. Available at <http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/18743/0 >

Lubee Bat Conservacy: Africa Projects. Availabe online at <http://www.batconservancy.org/africa-projects-bat-conservation.php >

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