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Livingstone's fruit bat

Scientific name: Pteropus livingstoniiLivingstone's fruit bat

Country: Comoros

Continent: Africa

Diet: Fruits - frugivore, nectar - nectarivore,

Food & feeding: Herbivore

Habitats: Tropical rainforest, tropical dry forest

Conservation status: Endangered

Relatives: Madagascar fruit bat, Rodrigues fruit bat

Description: These large red-eyed bats have a wingspan of about 140 cm, yet weigh only 700 grams. Fruit bats are sometimes called flying foxes, due to their dog-like muzzles and the soft, thick and often reddish fur that covers their head and bodies. Bats are warm-blooded and feed their young on milk. They fly using their long webbed fingers, their scientific name Chiroptera is Greek for 'hand-wing'. The Megachiroptera (big hand-wing) are the flying foxes and fruit bats, which come only from Africa, Asia and Australasia. Apart from the Rousettus species which click their tongues, the fruit bats do not use echolocation.

Lifestyle: Like their name suggests these are bats that eat fruit. During the day time they roost at the tops of tall trees, occasionally stirring to squabble with their neighbours. As evening approaches they become more active. Towards dusk, they leave their roost trees and fly off in search of trees laden with ripe fruits, on which they gorge themselves. By morning, they return to their roost trees, where they will spend much of the day hanging upside down from the branches.

There is immense pressure on the tropical forests of Anjouan and Moheli, where the bats live. Together with our partner organisation Action Comores we are working with local communities and the government to devise land management plans that will lead to sustainable development. The forests are precious as resources for water retention, non-timber forest products and to prevent land erosion, yet there is also a high demand to use the land for growing food and cash crops. Finding this balance wont be easy, but we confident that, with enough support, solutions can be found between the key stakeholders. It wont only be the bats who benefit, but the people who depend on the land for their livelihood.

The new series of Saving Planet Earth highlights wildlife conservation issues around the world and raises funds to support crucial conservation projects.

We have proposed the conservation of the Livingstone's fruit bat for the second series of 'Saving Planet Earth' project because of the importance of the bats' habitat to the people of the Comores. There is immense pressure on the tropical forests of Anjouan and Moheli, where the bats live. We are working with local communities, the government and local NGOs to devise land management plans that will lead to 'sustainable development'. The forests are precious as resources for water retention, non-timber forest products and to prevent land erosion, yet there is also a high demand to use the land for growing food and cash crops. Finding this balance wont be easy, but we confident that 'with enough support' solutions can be found between the key stakeholders. It wont only be the bats who benefit, but the people who depend on the land for their livelihood.

Livinstone fruit bat enclosure sponsored by Airbus
Bristol Zoo Gardens gratefully acknowledges the support of Airbus for its Livingstone Fruit Bat project. It is hoped that visitors to the Zoo will learn about the similarities and differences between animal and mechanical flight, and also how Airbus makes use of the latest materials and structures to produce the world's most modern airliners.

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