Friday, 27 July 2012

Biggest ever survey of one of the world’s most endangered bats gets underway on Comoros Islands

Counting the cost of habitat loss
July 2012. A major new effort is underway to survey one of the world's most endangered bat species on the brink of extinction. Field biologists and researchers from Bristol Zoo Gardens and Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust (Durrell) have joined forces to monitor the roost sites of Livingstone's fruit bats as it is feared that the rapid clearance of the bats' forest habitat is increasing the chances of the species being lost forever.

Less than 1000 giant red-eyed bats alive
There are thought to be less than 1,000 of these giant, red-eyed bats left in the wild on their native islands of Anjouan and Moheli - in the Comoros archipelago, off the south-east coast of Africa. Now the teams are carrying out the most thorough count of the species ever done, in a bid to assess the current population status and identify threats to the species' survival.
With help from local experts, the teams will traverse the bats' entire range, scaling mountains and travelling to the most inaccessible areas of the islands, to count bats in all their known treetop roost sites. The two organisations are partners in a conservation project working with local communities to protect the forest areas which are vital to the bats' survival.
Neil Maddison, Head of Conservation Programmes at Bristol Zoo Gardens, explains the importance of monitoring the bats in the wild: "These surveys are key to conserving these magnificent bats, and while they have been done some years ago, they have never been done with this level of intensity."

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