Pteropus melanotus


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Pteropus melanotus
Species Authority: Blyth, 1863
Common Name(s):
English Blyth's Flying Fox, Christmas Island Flying Fox, Black-eared Flying Fox
Spanish Zorro Volador De Andaman
Pteropus edulis Blyth, 1846
Pteropus modiglianii Thomas, 1894
Pteropus natalis Thomas, 1887
Pteropus niadicus Miller, 1906
Pteropus nicobaricus Fitzinger, 1861 [nomen nudum]
Pteropus nicobaricus Zelebor, 1869
Pteropus tytleri Mason, 1908
Pteropus tytleri Dobson, 1874 [nomen nudum]

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A2cde ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Hutson, A.M., Kingston, T., James, D.,Lumsden, L., Molur, S. & Srinivasulu, C.
Reviewer(s): Hutson, A.M., Racey, P.A. (Chiroptera Red List Authority) & Cox, N. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
Listed as Vulnerable as the species is thought likely to undergo a decline of more than 30% over the next three generations due to the impacts of habitat loss, hunting and possibly introduced predators. If the Christmas Island population was found to be specifically distinct, it would be assessed as Critically Endangered given that its population declined by 83% in 3 generations, and the causes of the decline are not known and may not have ceased.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species is limited to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands of India (Bompuka, Car Nicobar, Great Nicobar (including Campbell Bay), Kamorta, Katchal, Kondul, Nancowrie, South Sentinel, Tilangchong, Tressa and Trinket Islands [Pteropus melanotus melanotus] and South Andaman and Rutlans Islands [Pteropus melanotus tytleri]) (Molur et al. 2002), the Mentawi Islands (Nias and Enggano [Pteropus melanotus modiglianii]) of Indonesia, and Christmas Island of Australia (Pteropus melanotus natalis). The population on the island of Enggano is now extirpated following a severe typhoon (L. Lumsden pers. comm.). It has been recorded form sea level to an elevation of 1,000 m asl.
Christmas Island; India (Andaman Is., Nicobar Is.); Indonesia (Sumatera)
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Aul and Vijaykumar (2003) report a colony of more than 300 individuals in a mangrove creek on Great Nicobar Island. Aul and Vijaykumar (2003) also counted more than 500 individuals in the mangroves and under Nypa palms on Tillangchong Island in the Nicobars; 10-15 individuals have been recorded from palm fronds on Tillangchong Island, with several pups in this colony in the month of March. There appears to be no information on the current status of the population in the Mentawi Islands. On Christmas Island in 1984 the population was estimated to contain 3,500 individuals in five main camps and a further 2,500 individuals scattered singly or in small groups (Tidemann 1985). The camps were thought to have been historical, dating to before human settlement. By 1989 one more camp had been located, bringing the total to six camps, but only containing a hundred or so extra animals (Tidemann et al. 1993). Duncan et al. (1999) interpreted Tidemann's population figures as "less than 10,000 animals". In 1997-1998, few camps could be found and these contained few individuals (P. Meek, via L. Lumsden pers. comm.). In August 2002 only 17 Individuals were recorded during 26 field days of a general fauna survey, and the population was loosely estimated to be in the order of 500 to 1,000 individuals (Corbett et al. 2003). In April 2004 only one of the original five known camps could be found, and in November 2004 that camp contained 299 individuals (D. J. James pers. comm.). In December 2005, two of the six colonies once known were active but extensive searches for additional colonies were not successful. Counts in these two colonies from January to March 2006 varied between 14 and 500 individuals, apparently in response to local wind conditions. The number of bats roosting away from camps has not been estimated accurately, but is likely to be less than the number in camps; nocturnal surveys reveal wide distribution of foraging animals. The entire population was unlikely to number more than 1,000 individuals in March 2006 (Orchard 2006; D. J. James pers. comm.). In September 2006, there was a count of 1,381 individuals on Christmas Island (James et al. 2007).
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: In South Asia, this species roosts in large colonies consisting of several thousands of individuals in the mangrove vegetation (Molur et al. 2002). Feeds on both wild and cultivated fruit. A single young is born (Bates and Harrison 1997). It has been observed to feed on Bombax spp. and Sterculia spp. (Aul and Vijaykumar 2003). On Christmas Island part of the population roosts in large camps at traditional locations and part roosts scattered singly and in small groups through the forest. It was recorded roosting in 11 tree species in December 2005-Feb 2006 (Orchard 2006). Camps are always near the coast (D. J. James pers. comm.). Numbers in camps fluctuate widely, possibly in response to winds that facilitate emergence (D. J. James pers. comm.). They feed on a number of rainforest fruits and flowers; of 26 known species in the diet, 10 are introduced species and at least five of these 10 seem to be very important (Orchard 2006). It is relatively diurnal, emerging from camps well before dusk. Non-flying young have been recorded in December and January (Orchard 2006; D. J. James pers. comm.).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): In the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, this species is threatened by deforestation, generally resulting from logging operations and the conversion of land to agricultural purposes. It is also threatened due to tourism related developmental activities (Molur et al. 2002), and from overhunting at daytime roosts, as the bones are crushed and used as asthma medicine (L. Lumsden pers. comm.). These bats are kept as pets on Car Nicobar, Kamorta, Katchal, Pulo Milo and Trinket Islands. The December 2004 tsunami is likely to have damaged the mangrove habitat of this species, however, further research is needed to confirm that the species has declined because of this event. The population on the Indonesian island of Enggano may have been wiped out by a hurricane, although this needs to be confirmed, and while threats to the species on Nias are not known, they presumably include general habitat loss. It is preyed on by feral cats on Christmas Island, and there has also been some hunting, including large numbers (up to 200), in the past, however, there is no recent evidence of hunting in this part of the species range (D. J. James pers. comm.). Corbett et al. (2003) hypothesised that a severe cyclone in 1988 initiated the decline in the Christmas Island population. However, other anecdotal evidence indicates that the decline began in the mid 1990s (Orchard 2006). The Yellow Crazy Ant Anoplolepis gracilipes has caused general ecological breakdown on Christmas Island since the late 1990s (O'Dowd et al. 2003). Disease (speculative) may be a factor. Threats to the Christmas Island population have proven difficult to identify, and are likely to be a combination of factors (Orchard 2006). James et al. (2007), provide a detailed account of possible threats to the species including, predation or disturbance by both, or either, introduced and native species; predation and/or persecution by humans (mostly formerly); loss of habitat; storm events; accidental poisoning; light pollution; and disease and parasites. James et al. (2007), also give a 'threat assessment matrix' indicating the likelihood of each potential threat.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

This species is listed on Appendix II of CITES. This species is currently categorised as vermin under the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, however, there is a need to encourage the protection of the globally important Andaman and Nicobar Islands population. It is present in the Campbell Bay protected area on Great Nicobar. On Christmas Island a National Park now covers 63% of the island. Control of invasive species on Christmas Island is necessary. A detailed assessment of conservation status and threats is provided for the Christmas Island population by James et al. (2007). Further population assessments, monitoring and taxonomic studies, and appropriate conservation responses are needed for all remaining populations of this species.

Citation: Hutson, A.M., Kingston, T., James, D.,Lumsden, L., Molur, S. & Srinivasulu, C. 2008. Pteropus melanotus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <>. Downloaded on 28 July 2014.
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