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Pteropus tonganus

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA CHIROPTERA PTEROPODIDAE

Scientific Name: Pteropus tonganus
Species Authority: Quoy & Gaimard, 1830
Common Name(s):
English Pacific Flying Fox, Insular Flying-fox
French Roussette Des Îles Tonga
Taxonomic Notes: Flannery (1995) suggests that the taxonomic status of Pteropus tonganus basilicus from Karkar Island should be reviewed.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Hamilton, S. & Helgen, K.
Reviewer(s): Lamoreux, J. (Global Mammal Assessment Team), Racey, P.A., Medellín, R. & Hutson, A.M. (Chiroptera Red List Authority)
Justification:
Listed as Least Concern in view of its wide distribution, presumed large population, and because it is unlikely to be declining at nearly the rate required to qualify for listing in a threatened category.
History:
1990 Indeterminate (IUCN 1990)
1988 Indeterminate (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species is the most widespread of the Pacific fruit bats. It ranges from Karkar and Koil islands of Papua New Guinea, southeastwards into the Solomon Islands (Malaita, Makira, Rennell, and Santa Cruz islands), and from here ranges to Vanuatu, New Caledonia (New Caledonia Island and Ouvéa Island), Fiji (widespread), Wallis and Futuna (few old records), Tonga, Samoa, American Samoa, Niué, and the Cook Islands (Mangaia and Rarotonga) (Mickleburgh et al. 1992; Flannery 1995; Bonaccorso 1998). It is possible that this species has been introduced to some islands by humans (Flannery 1995).
Countries:
Native:
American Samoa (American Samoa); Cook Islands; Fiji; New Caledonia; Niue; Papua New Guinea; Samoa; Solomon Islands; Tonga; Vanuatu; Wallis and Futuna
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: It was previously reported to be relatively common in some island groups (e.g., Vanuatu), however, current abundance is unclear for many populations and it is known to have declined in some areas. Colonies can be large, and the species migrates between islands. The population is thought to be declining on the islands of Rarotonga and Mangia. In 2002, surveys estimated 1,730 on Rarotonga and only 78 on Mangia (Cousins and Compton 2005). This species is plentiful and widespread on both large and small Fijian islands, with more than half of the global population attributed to the islands of Fiji (Palmeirim et al. 2005). In Tonga during 1995, surveys found a robust population of about 6,000 individuals on 14 islands in the Vava’u group (Grant 1998). After cyclone Waka hit the area in 2001, McConkey et al. (2004) recorded a decline of more than 80% of bats they had recorded moving between six islands (A. Brooke pers. comm.).
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This species is usually found in large roosting colonies in large, canopy trees. It has been recorded in tropical moist forest, mangrove forest, and feeding on plantation crops such as banana and papaw (Mickleburgh et al. 1992; Flannery 1995). Females most commonly give birth to a single young, twins are found occasionally (A. Brooke pers. comm.).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Throughout much of its range this bat species is threatened by overexploitation for food, both for commercial or subsistence purposes. The loss of native forest, including important food trees for the species, to timber and conversion to plantations and cultivated land is a significant threat to the species in many parts of its range. Tropical storms and typhoons, including general increased hunting pressure following a storm, are considerable threats to many populations, most especially small remnant populations. Due to listing on Appendix I of CITES in 1989, there is little commercial hunting of P. tonganus in Polynesia and Micronesia (A. Brooke pers. comm.). However, in Vanuatu this species is sold in restaurants and one hotel advertises bat hunting on its web site (A. Brooke pers. comm.). On the island of Niue, nine months after Cyclone Heta struck in January of 2004, a decrease of 95% was found in relation to surveys conducted in 1998. A legal hunting season continued for the two to four month season following this cyclone, with ammunition being sold by the police department. Later a five year ban on hunting was enacted (Brooke 2004). On the island of Mangia, lack of habitat appears to be the biggest threat. Still, hunting is not restricted and poses a threat on both Rarotonga or Mangia (Cousins and Compton 2005). Although bats are hunted for personal consumption in Fiji, the lack of development and firearms have protected P. tonganus from the wide-scale hunting of other islands (Palmeirim et al. 2005). In Tonga, after cyclone Waka hit the area in 2001, McConkey et al. (2004) recorded a decline of more than 80% of bats they had recorded moving between 6 islands. Hunting was considered negligible because most of the islands were uninhabited (A. Brooke pers. comm.).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: It is listed on Appendix I of CITES, effectively prohibiting international trade in this species since 1989. It is protected by domestic legislation or wildlife laws in a few range states (e.g., Fiji), and like all bats, this species is protected by a hunting ban in American Samoa (A. Brooke pers. comm.). Hunting regulations and enforcement are needed still throughout much of the species' range. The species is present in a number of protected areas. Monitoring of declines throughout its range is important and further study of Papua New Guinea populations distribution would be worthwhile.

Citation: Hamilton, S. & Helgen, K. 2008. Pteropus tonganus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 20 October 2014.
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