FRUIT BAT PROJECT
The straw-coloured fruit bat (Eidolon helvum) is the second largest fruit bat on the African continent and is widely distributed across equatorial and Sub-Saharan Africa (Thomas 1983).
Classified as Near Threatened by IUCN, E. helvum are locally threatened by deforestation.
While there are a few protected areas within their range (e.g. Kasanka National Park, Zambia) where they are seasonally present in large numbers, there is a need to identify and protect other important roosting and foraging sites to conserve the species (Mickleburgh et al. 2008).
E. helvum migrates long distances in response to seasonal variation in rain and fruit and provides important ecological services through seed dispersal and forest regeneration (Thomas 1983, Ossa et al 2012, Richter & Cumming 2006). Bats account for 98% of seed dispersal in threatened tropical hardwood species, Milicia excelsa, and the presence of E. helvum increased seed rain by 200% (Taylor et al 2000, Richter & Cumming 2006). Despite the importance of E. helvum in contributing to pollination and seed dispersal, very little is understood about the local migration, behaviour and resource requirements of species.
What we are doing ?
We aim to evaluate the distribution, diet, resource requirements, and vulnerability of E. helvum in Lilongwe city using GSM tracking. This includes recording behavioural observations of bats and roosts to collect data on roosting and foraging ecology of bats using the city.
Why are we doing it?
Data will be used to compile a site specific species and habitat management plan, with recommendations for future conservation and management.