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Madagascar flying fox (Pteropus rufus)
Written by Administrator   
Monday, 08 March 2010 16:00

Madagascar flying foxes destined for the market

Madagascar's largest bat is an important seed disperser but is threatened by hunting and loss of forests


Pteropus rufus is the largest flying fox found on the island of Madagascar. It is a prodigous fruit eater and provides an important ecological service as a seed disper. This bat roosts in small areas of forest in colonies that can contain over 5,000 individuals. Deforestation is reducing the available roosting and feeding sites for this bat and and in many parts of the island it is killed and eaten by people. This bat is considered to be vulnerable to extinction on the IUCN Red List, but in Madagascar it is a game species and can be legally hunted.


This species is under severe pressure from people; it's roosting sites are being cleared as agriculture encroaches into new areas. Also, it is one of the species most frequently eaten by people in the west, and provides for both the subsistence and commercial demands.

Conservation of this species is beneficial to Malagasy people and ecosystems. Its forest roost sites provide important ecological services that support livelihoods. Furthermore, the bats themselves as long-distance transporters of pollen and seeds contribute to forest regeneration. Even the hunting, if it could be managed appropriately, could benefit local communities.

We focus our conservation efforts on roosting sites because this is where the bats congregate daily in large numbers. We have developed a community-based approach that relies on the participation of local people, the provision of education resources and a desire to conserve more than just the bats! This work is implemented by our community program and is currently focussed in three different regions of Madagascar.

More information

For additional information about the ecology and conservation of this species please see some of our publications:

Madagascar Flying Fox in a fragmented landscape.

Pteropus rufus in south- eastern Madagascar