Saving threatened habitats worldwide

Straw-coloured Fruit Bat

© Christine Klaas

Straw-coloured Fruit Bat © Ian Sane

Class: Mammalia

Order: Chiroptera

Family: Pteropodidae

Scientific Name: Eidolon helvum

IUCN Red List status:Near Threatened


Protected by the following WLT projects:

 

Kasanka National Park

 

Species Range (IUCN)

Description

The Straw-coloured Fruit Bat is the second largest fruit bat on the African continent, with a wingspan which can reach up to one metre and adults can weigh up to 350g. They are very strong fliers, with long, pointed wings built for endurance over agility.  However, their body structure restricts their foraging to the upper canopy layer, as a consequence of relatively low manoeuvrability. Their bodies can vary from their titular straw colour to pale yellow or dark brown-grey.

Behaviour

These bats are highly gregarious and form colonies of up to 100 individuals which roost together during the day in tall trees or caves, and once a year come together in their millions to Kasanka National Park, Zambia, in the world’s largest mammal migration. They are capable of migrating thousands of kilometres each year, meaning they have the furthest recorded migration of any African mammal.

The bats come to Kasanka to feast on the abundance of fruit which the forest produces after the first rains, when the bats can consume up to twice their bodyweight each night. This gluttonous stopover provides the bats with the resources for the rest of their long migrations across Africa, especially for gravid females. 

Habitat

This fruit bat can be found in a wide range of habitats across sub-Saharan, equatorial and southern Africa. It is primarily found in moist and try tropical rainforests, due to the abundance of fruit (although they also eat blossoms and young shoots of silk-cotton trees), but can be found in various other forest habitats and even urban areas. 

Threats and Conservation

These bats are heavily harvested for bushmeat in West and Central Africa, which is a primary cause of local population declines. The greatest threat to the species as a whole is deforestation in certain parts of its range. In some areas the bats are considered a pest species and roosting locations are destroyed to try to eliminate the roosting colonies. This is also a method for harvesting bats for the food and medicine markets.

Kasanka from Christine Klaas on Vimeo.

References

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