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Rodrigues Fruit Bat (Pteropus rodricensis) Fact Sheet: Population & Conservation Status

Rodrigues Fruit Bat (Pteropus rodricensis)

Population Status

Population estimates

  • Approximately 20,000 mature individuals (Tatayah et al. 2017)

Historical influences

  • Bat population described in detail in 1708 by early French naturalist and explorer, Leguat. (Cheke & Dahl 1981)
  • Until 1916 reported abundant on Rodrigues
  • 1955: Around 1000 noted
  • Early 1970's: considered rarest bat in world; fewer than 100 remained
  • 1979: Population reduced to 70 by cyclone
  • 1990: Population rises back to 1000+
  • 1991:A cyclone strikes, only 350 bats counted
  • 2003: 5,076 bats from 10 roosts (4 not recorded previously) reported; population believed increasing
  • 2003: Cyclone hits in March; population reduced to 4,000.

 

Conservation Status

American Zoo and Aquarium Assoc. (2000); ISIS (now Species 360) (2005); Mickleburgh et al. (2008); O'Brien (2007); Pierson & Rainey (1992); Thatcher (2010); Trewhella et al. (2005)

  • IUCN Status: Endangered (2016 assessment) (Tatayah et al. 2017)
    • Past assessments
      • 2008: Critically Endangered
      • 2004 Critically Endangered
      • 1996 Critically Endangered
      • 1994 Endangered
      • 1990 Endangered
      • 1988 Endangered
      • 1986 Endangered
  • CITES Status: 1990 Appendix II (regulation of international shipments)
  • U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: listed as Endangered in 1984
  • About 650 bats in 33 institutions (ISIS 2005, O'Brien 2007)
    • Species Survival Plan (SSP): 8 North American institutions hold about 300 (American Zoo and Aquarium Assoc. 2000)
    • (EEP):11 British and European institutions hold around 340 Rodrigues fruit bats (American Zoo and Aquarium Assoc. 2000)
  • One colony on Mauritius: 28 bats (American Zoo and Aquarium Assoc. 2000)
  • Slow reproductive rate makes conservation of these animals difficult (Pierson & Rainey 1992) (Thatcher 2010)
    • Declines in populations not easily reversed
    • Compared to rats, in a single year in captivity, with no deaths:
      • Two bats plus offspring = 3 or 4 bats
      • Two rats plus offspring = 4,000 rats
  •  

Threats to Survival

  • Deforestation
    • Especially felling of mature fruit trees and important roost trees
    • Trees serve not only as food and roosting sites, but also provide buffer from cyclone winds
  • Strong storms that destroy trees and strip fruit from trees
  • Until recently many fruit bat species hunted for food, but now rarely on Rodrigues Island (Trewhella et al. 2005)

Largest Bat at Risk of Extinction

Rodrigues fruit bat

The Rodrigues fruit bat lives on only one small island, near Madagascar. It is Critically Endangered.

A small native range and severe population swings due to deforestation and natural cyclone disasters put this species at risk.

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Global. All rights reserved.

Page Citations

Cheke and Dahl (1981)
Carroll (1984)
Mickleburgh et al. (2008)
Powell & Wehnelt (2003)
Trewhella et al. (2005)
Wing (2001)

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