Let the foxes fly

02 May 2010 | News story

In eastern Madagascar, the Madagascan Flying Fox (Pteropus rufus) is hunted for bush meat and its habitat is threatened by agriculture and forest fires. IUCN’s community-based project in the area has succeeded in engaging local communities in protecting the species.

The Madagascan Flying fox (Pteropus rufus) is listed as Vulnerable by The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™. It is subject to intense hunting pressure for use in food and traditional medicine. Occupying small fragments of forest during the day, their roosts and feeding areas are also threatened by agriculture and bush fires.

The project was funded by the IUCN Sir Peter Scott Fund for Conservation Action and donor Fondation Ensemble, with staff from the local conservation group Madagasikara Voakajy. It involved discussions with local communities about protecting the flying fox and its ever decreasing habitat.

Project participants visited forest fragments with large colonies of flying foxes, which are at risk from fires, the conversion of land for agriculture and hunting. The sustainable management of these natural resources can be extremely beneficial to both the flying fox and the local people. At one site alone there are between 800 and 1,000 flying foxes and the forest fragments play a vital role in providing natural resources for agriculture.

The participants agreed to reduce the extraction of wood and non-timber products used by bats and to register three village-based associations to manage the forest areas under threat.

The project increased the awareness about flying foxes at local, district and regional levels. It identified current threats to the bat roosts, and three forest fragments have obtained temporary protected area status, as part of the ongoing process to expand the protected area network in Madagascar. Their creation has encouraged local people to conserve the remaining forest fragments, giving the flying fox roosts a much better long-term chance of survival.

Click here to learn more about the project.


View of logging road in the Cameroon Forests