Pteropus rodricensis 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Chiroptera Pteropodidae

Scientific Name: Pteropus rodricensis Dobson, 1878
Common Name(s):
English Rodrigues Flying Fox, Golden Bat of Rodrigues, Rodrigues Fruit Bat
French Chauve-Souris de Rodrigues
Spanish Zorro Volador De La Isla Rodrígues
Pteropus mascarinus Mason, 1907

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered B1ac(iv)+2ac(iv) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2016-07-12
Assessor(s): Tatayah, V., Jhangeer-Khan, R., Bégué, J.A. & Jones, C.A.
Reviewer(s): Mildenstein, T.
Contributor(s): White, D., Bell, D., Gottschalk, S., Mickleburgh, S., Hutson, A.M. & Bergmans, W.

Pteropus rodricensis is listed as Endangered because the global population is restricted to a single location (the island of Rodrigues), and it has an extent of occurrence (EOO) and area of occupancy (AOO) that are both less than 500 km². The population undergoes extreme fluctuations due to severe tropical cyclones, which can cause mortalities of over 50% but the population subsequently recovers at a rate of about 12-15% a year provided there are no further severe cyclones. This fruitbat exploits both native habitats and those dominated by introduced species. Native habitats are highly fragmented.

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is now confined to the western Indian Ocean island of Rodrigues (Republic of Mauritius). It ranges from sea level to the highest point of the island, Mont Limon, ca 400 m asl. Historically it was thought to be present on the island of Mauritius. Sub-fossil bones found on Round Island (Mauritius) have been ascribed to P. rodricensis, although these remains may need to be reassessed.
Countries occurrence:
Mauritius (Mauritius (main island) - Regionally Extinct, Rodrigues)
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:64-108Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):No
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:129
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):NoExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Number of Locations:1Continuing decline in number of locations:No
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:No
Upper elevation limit (metres):400
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Until around 1916 the species was reported to be abundant on Rodrigues, and even in 1955 large numbers (about 500) still roosted in tamarinds (Mickleburgh et al. 1992). In 1965 there were fewer bats but the species was still common. There was a marked decline in the 1970s, and following Cyclone Celine II (1979) the population was reduced to around 70 bats. By 1980 the population had recovered to between 200 and 250 animals (Carroll and Mace 1988), and at the end of February 1990 the population was estimated to be greater than 1,000 bats (Mickleburgh et al. 1992). The population had recovered to around 5,076 bats (Powell and Wehnelt 2003), however, the impact of cyclone Kalunde in March 2003 appears to have reduced the population to around 4,000 animals (Anon. 2006).

Island-wide bat counts are conducted three times a year at the nine major (‘permanent’, older) roosts and up to nine smaller (‘temporary’, more recent) roosts. In 2016, the population had grown to ca 20,000 individuals. It is notable that some of the more recent roosts have significantly more bats than the traditional roosts, and this may be an indication of bats recolonizing habitat where they have been extirpated in the past or where vegetation has recovered.
Current Population Trend:Increasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:20000Continuing decline of mature individuals:No
Extreme fluctuations:YesPopulation severely fragmented:No
All individuals in one subpopulation:Yes

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species is generally associated with forested areas, and can be found roosting in remaining patches of both primary and secondary forest. It is found in the valleys of the island, as well as in plantation forests, and in remaining patches of native forests, where it feeds on fruits, flowers and young leaves. It also feeds in backyard gardens. It is thought to be an important pollinator and disperser of native trees.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Deforestation has been a serious threat to the species, especially where mature fruit trees and important roost trees were felled. Because of the deforestation of this forest buffer, any remaining patches of forest (and their roosting bats), were more susceptible to tropical cyclones. These cyclones can cause significant fluctuations in bat population size and, along with shortage of food and dehydration, and they are now the major current threat to the species (Powell and Wehnelt 2003).

In the past the species was also hunted for food, however, this is now rare (Trewhellaet al. 2005, Price 2013). Due to its habit of raiding fruit trees (mangoes, lychees, papaya etc), there is a human-wildlife conflict (Barnes 2013, Price 2013). A new law has been passed for the Republic of Mauritius: the Native Terrestrial Biodiversity and National Parks Act (2015). Whilst the Rodrigues Fruit Bat is still protected under this law, it has provisions for declaring any species as a ‘pest’ and may allow culling of the species (in spite of it being a threatened species). An official cull of nearly 31,000 Mauritius Fruit Bat Pteropus niger was sanctioned in 2015. Whilst the law still protects the Rodrigues Fruit Bat, there are now provisions and a precedent for culling. However, the Rodrigues Regional Assembly is an autonomous administration under the Republic of Mauritius and has the right under the Rodrigues Regional Assembly Act (2001) to pass its own laws and regulations.

Rodrigues is an island that has shown very proactive environmental and conservation initiatives (e.g., banning of plastic bags, closure season for octopus fishing, green job creation, recycling etc.) and it is unlikely to sanction culling of bats in the near future. Deforestation is no longer occurring since at least 2010.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: A successful captive breeding programme for this species was initiated by the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, with breeding populations of this bat now maintained at 46 zoos around the world (David White, studbook keeper, 2016, pers.comm). In-situ conservation efforts have concentrated on restoration of the natural habitat, watershed protection and awareness raising among the local people through environmental education programmes (Powell and Wehnelt 2003, Trewhellaet al. 2005; It is listed on Appendix II of CITES.

Citation: Tatayah, V., Jhangeer-Khan, R., Bégué, J.A. & Jones, C.A. 2017. Pteropus rodricensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T18755A22087057. . Downloaded on 20 September 2018.
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