18th January 2019
Bat Conservation Trust, along with other bat conservation organisations, would like the government of Mauritius to reconsider its decision to cull 13,000 endangered Mauritius fruit bats. Previous culls, in 2015 and 2016, have already caused significant damage to this vulnerable population of endemic fruit bat.
The cull has been called because of concerns by fruit growers of the damage caused by bats to important fruit crops. With only 5% of native forest remaining, the Mauritius fruit bat has resorted to feeding in orchards to survive. Research carried out by Dr Ryszard Oleksy (University of Bristol, UK) indicated that Mauritius fruit bat were the cause of around 10% of damage to fruiting plantations and could be managed effectively without the need to cull. (the report is available from the Rufford Foundation website and was is published as a peer review article in the journal Oryx). Although we understand the real concerns of fruit growers, there are alternative solutions to killing bats such as netting fruit trees, targeted pruning or potential use of deterrents. We hope that all stakeholders (fruit-growers, conservationists, general public, tourism sector, the media, and others) who will be meeting early in 2019, will work together to explore alternative humane methods to resolve this situation.
Bat Conservation Trust supports the position statement released by the Species Survival Commission (SSC) of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) which respectfully appeals to the Government of Mauritius to halt any cull of the Endangered Mauritius Fruit Bat, Pteropus niger, and to seek effective non-lethal strategies to address the conflict between the bats and the fruit growers on the island.
IUCN calls for an end to culls of the Mauritius Fruit Bat: https://www.iucn.org/news/secretariat/201812/iucn-calls-end-culls-mauritius-fruit-bat
Bat Conservation International Statement: http://www.batcon.org/resources/media-education/news-room/gen-news/80-latest-news/1195-bci-outraged-by-planned-kill-of-endangered-bats