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Bats as bushmeat: a global review

  • Simon Mickleburgh (a1), Kerry Waylen (a1) and Paul Racey (a2)

Abstract

A questionnaire survey and literature review revealed the extent of hunting of bats for bushmeat in the Old World tropics. High levels of offtake were reported throughout Asia, the Pacific islands and some Western Indian Ocean islands, where fruit bats of the genus Pteropus are eaten extensively. Most hunting in Africa was reported in western states and the largest fruit bat Eidolon helvum was preferred. Insectivorous bats are also eaten, particularly Tadarida in Asia. Hunting is both for local consumption and commercial, sometimes involving cross-border transactions. The high levels of hunting reported and the low reproductive rate of bats indicate there are likely to be severe negative effects on bat populations, and declines of several species are documented. Although there has been only one reported attempt to manage offtake, this indicates that it is possible and apparently successful. Furthermore, voluntary controls on hunting have halted declines in bat numbers. There have been several initiatives to reduce hunting pressure and conserve threatened bat species, mainly on islands that, when sustained, have been successful. More education projects and community-based conservation initiatives should be encouraged together with further attempts at sustainable harvesting in situations where disease risk has been evaluated.

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Corresponding author

School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, AB24 2TZ, UK. E-mail p.racey@abdn.ac.uk

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