The endemic Madagascar flying fox Pteropus
rufus is threatened by habitat loss at roost sites and hunting for
bushmeat. There is no conservation plan for this species, even though it is
categorized on the IUCN Red List as Vulnerable and plays an important role as a
seed disperser. In the Mangoro valley of central eastern Madagascar we monitored
roost occupancy and abundance of P. rufus on
15 occasions at six sites over a 12-month period and conducted a detailed
assessment of eight roosts during July 2004. There was considerable monthly
variation in bat abundance and only two sites contained bats during every visit.
Three sites were occupied only between September and March and may act as
maternity or nursery roosts. Evidence of hunting was found at three roosts, and
fire and forest clearance are ubiquitous threats. Two roosts were in Eucalyptus plantations and six were in small (2.2 -
28.7 ha) isolated fragments of degraded, mid elevation dense humid forest. All
roosts were outside protected areas but were within 20 km of relatively intact
forest. Faecal analysis revealed a diet of native forest tree species,
cultivated fruits and Eucalyptus flowers.
P. rufus in the Mangoro valley, and
elsewhere in Madagascar, appears to survive in human-impacted environments by
the inclusion of exotic plants in its diet and the ability to move between
roosts. We provide conservation recommendations for P.
rufus at both local and national levels.