A bat that has been previously described by experts as the world’s rarest has been pulled back from the edge of extinction thanks to the efforts of Chester Zoo and its partners.
Back in the 70s, the Rodrigues fruit bat (which is indigenous to the Indian Ocean’s Mascarene Island of Rodrigues, east of Madagascar) number had dwindled to approximately 70 of the species remaining in the wild.
Growing human population on the island led to widespread deforestation. This destruction of fruit trees, which provided the bats with both their home and habitat, drove them into orchards in local communities. Climate change also had a significant impact on the species, with powerful tropical cyclones battering the island, causing massive losses throughout the entire population.
Working with the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation (MWF), its partner, Chester Zoo has made a huge difference. The project is striving to create a wider appreciation of the species. Like bees, the bats pollinate and disperse seeds, helping the forests lost to be recreated.
The MWF has, and continues to, work with local communities and government bodies to manage and effectively restore the animal’s ecosystems, carry out important scientific research, conduct education programmes, alter perceptions of the species and even bring injured bats back to full health.
Chester Zoo is aiming to highlight how species such as these deserve special care and protection, and highlighting to the general public the importance of saving these animals.
In 2023, the population of fruit bats has now reached 25,000.