Pteropus tonganus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Chiroptera Pteropodidae

Scientific Name: Pteropus tonganus 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)
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.
Previously published Red List assessments:

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 occurrence:
American Samoa; Cook Islands; Fiji; New Caledonia; Niue; Papua New Guinea; Samoa; Solomon Islands; Tonga; Vanuatu; Wallis and Futuna
Additional data:
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.).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

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.).

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.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.6. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Lowland
1. Forest -> 1.7. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Mangrove Vegetation Above High Tide Level
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.3. Artificial/Terrestrial - Plantations
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.4. Artificial/Terrestrial - Rural Gardens
1. Land/water protection -> 1.1. Site/area protection
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management
3. Species management -> 3.1. Species management -> 3.1.1. Harvest management
4. Education & awareness -> 4.3. Awareness & communications
5. Law & policy -> 5.1. Legislation -> 5.1.2. National level
5. Law & policy -> 5.4. Compliance and enforcement -> 5.4.2. National level

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
  Included in international legislation:Yes
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:Yes
11. Climate change & severe weather -> 11.4. Storms & flooding
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.1. Shifting agriculture
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.2. Small-holder farming
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.3. Agro-industry farming
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.1. Intentional use (species is the target)
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.3. Logging & wood harvesting -> 5.3.5. Motivation Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

1. Research -> 1.1. Taxonomy
1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
1. Research -> 1.6. Actions
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

♦  Food - human
 Local : ✓   National : ✓  International : ✓ 

Bibliography [top]

Bonaccorso, F. 1998. Bats of Papua New Guinea. Conservation International, Washington, DC, USA.

Brooke, A. 2004. Report to the Department of Environment of the Status of Peka. Alofi, Niue.

Brooke, A. P. and Tschapka, M. 2002. Threates to overhunting of the flying fox Pteropus tonganus (Chiroptera: Pteropodidae) on Niue Island, South Pacific Ocean. Biological Conservation 103: 343-348.

Brooke, A. P., Solek, C. and Tualaulelei, A. 2000. Roosting behavior of solitary and colonial flying foxes in American Samoa (Chiroptera: Pteropodidae). Biotropica 32: 338-350.

Cousins, J. and Compton, S. G. 2005. The Tongan flying fox Pteropus tonganus: status, public attitudes and conservation in the Cook Islands. Oryx 39: 1-8.

Flannery, T.F. 1995. Mammals of the South-West Pacific and Moluccan Islands. Comstock/Cornell, Ithaca, Ny, USA.

Grant, G. S. 1998. Population status of Pteropus tonganus in Tonga. Atoll Research Bulletin: 1-13.

Mcconkey, K. R., Drake, D. R., Franklin, J. and Tonga, F. 2004. Effects of cyclone Waka on flying foxes (Pteropus tonganus) in the Vava'u Islands of Tonga. Journal of Tropical Ecology 20: 555-561.

Mickleburgh, S.P., Hutson, A.M. and Racey, P.A. 1992. Old World Fruit-Bats - An Action Plan for their Conservation. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.

Palmeirim, J. M., Champion, A., Naikatini, A., Niukula, J., Tuiwawa, M., Fisher, M., Yabaki-Gounder, M., Qalovaki, S. and Dunn, T. 2005. Distribution, status, and conservation of bats in the Fiji islands. The University of the South Pacific, Fauna and Flora International, Universidade de Lisboa.

Citation: Hamilton, S. & Helgen, K. 2008. Pteropus tonganus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T18764A8587601. . Downloaded on 21 June 2018.
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