Aug 24
Photo of Mauritian flying fox in flight

Mauritian flying fox (Pteropus niger)

Species: Mauritian flying fox (Pteropus niger)

Status: Endangered (EN)

Interesting Fact: The Mauritian flying fox is named for its fox-like face, but is in fact a large species of fruit bat.

More information:

The only fruit bat to occur on the island of Mauritius, the Mauritian flying fox is a large bat with golden-brown fur. This species has a wingspan of about 80 centimetres, and the long, narrow shape of its wings allows it to travel long distances as it seeks out food in the forest canopy. The Mauritian flying fox feeds mainly on fruit, which it squeezes in its mouth to obtain the juices before spitting out the seeds and pulp. This species roosts in trees, where it gathers in large groups known as ‘camps’. Like other flying foxes, the Mauritian flying fox gives birth to a single young each year. Although this species is found almost entirely on Mauritius, a few individuals have also been reported from nearby Réunion in recent years.

The main threat to the Mauritian flying fox is deforestation. Only around five percent of the original vegetation on Mauritius now remains, and over half the plants the Mauritian flying fox feeds on are introduced species. Despite legal protection, this large bat is hunted for food and sport, and in 2006 the Mauritian government endorsed a culling programme as a result of alleged damage to fruit crops. The Mauritian flying fox occurs in a number of protected areas and is listed on Appendix II of CITES, but illegal hunting is still reported to occur. Recommended conservation measures include research into this bat’s populations, together with habitat restoration, education campaigns and captive breeding. The effects of culling also need to be assessed, as does the effectiveness of netting fruit trees to protect crops. The Mauritian flying fox plays a vital role in pollination and seed dispersal, so conserving this species will also help maintain the health of the island’s remaining forests.

 

Find out more about bat conservation at:

You can also find out more about Mauritius and other Indian Ocean islands on our Indian Ocean islands page and at the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation.

See more images of the Mauritian flying fox on ARKive.

Liz Shaw, ARKive Text Author

Jul 13
Photo of pink pigeon, side profile

Pink pigeon (Nesoenas mayeri)

Species: Pink pigeon (Nesoenas mayeri)

Status: Endangered (EN)

Interesting Fact: In the 1980s, a tiny grove of cedar trees which housed the entire wild population of pink pigeons became known as ‘Pigeon Wood’.

Also known as the Mauritius pink pigeon, the pink pigeon is a rare endemic bird found only on the island of Mauritius and the adjacent Ile aux Aigrettes. As its name suggests, the pink pigeon has a pink head, neck and breast, although its back is brown and it has a reddish-brown tail. This species breeds in most months of the year, with both adults helping to raise the brood of two chicks. The pink pigeon feeds on buds, leaves, flowers, fruits and seeds of both native and introduced plants. Although this pigeon originally inhabited native evergreen forest, it is now mainly found among non-native trees such as the Japanese red cedar.

The pink pigeon underwent a dramatic decline in the last century due to severe deforestation combined with predation by introduced mammals such as mongooses, rats and cats. Cyclones are also a potential threat to this rare bird and can destroy its nest sites. By the early 1990s, the situation for the pink pigeon had become critical, with just ten individuals left in the wild. Fortunately, intensive conservation efforts have rescued this endemic bird from the brink of extinction, with a captive breeding programme increasing the wild population to over 350 individuals today. Other efforts to protect this species include habitat restoration, predator control and providing supplementary food. Although the pink pigeon still requires continued management if it is to survive, the miraculous recovery of this species is considered to be a great conservation success story.

 

Find out more about the pink pigeon and its conservation at Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust – Mauritius pink pigeon.

Read more about conservation on Mauritius at the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation.

You can also find out more about the wildlife of Mauritius and other Indian Ocean islands on the ARKive Indian Ocean islands page.

See images and videos of the pink pigeon on ARKive.

Liz Shaw, ARKive Text Author

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