|Categories||Bats, Farming, Mammals, Plants|
|Date||2 Jul 2018|
Old World plant-visiting bats (Pteropodidae) are important ecosystem service providers, pollinating flowers and dispersing seeds over long distances. They are crucial for maintaining the health of tropical ecosystems. Yet negative attitudes towards fruit bats still persist, and they are often viewed as pests. Thus, bats are not charismatic flagship species, and there is little motivation to conserve them. This could have serious repercussions for ecosystem health. Therefore, there is an urgent need to strengthen the cause for bat conservation. Understanding bat ecosystem services and conflict situations with humans is a necessary step to develop effective conservation solutions for Malaysia.
I will build upon the work and information already generated by Phase 1 of Project Pteropus to expand on my efforts to promote the bat conservation agenda within Peninsular Malaysia. Flying foxes (Pteropus spp.) will be used as a flagship, umbrella animal group to initiate conservation actions that will also benefit other associated bat species. I will focus on the role of bats as major pollinators for durian, as I believe this crucial information can help promote bat-friendly attitudes and behaviours in Southeast Asia. Additionally, further elucidating the pollination services of the cave nectar bat (Eonycteris spelaea) can provide a powerful argument for protecting threatened limestone ecosystems.
I will also explore potential collaborations with fruit farmers in Peninsular Malaysia to investigate whether bats are visiting and either pollinating or raiding fruit trees, and to identify outreach and awareness-raising needs. Awareness materials will be produced to support community outreach and conflict management on Tioman Island conducted by a local site-based NGO, Reef Check Malaysia. Concurrently, we will also collect baseline population data of flying foxes from roost sites across the peninsula, in collaboration with the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) in order to initiate protection of colonies and their habitats.
Read about Sheema's previous project https://www.rufford.org/projects/sheema_abdul_aziz or for more information contact: