Project Pteropus


Lead Researcher: Sheema

Core team members: Mary-Ruth, Hana, Joon Yee

Collaborators/Partners: Reuben (Kenyir For Life), Junn Kitt/Liew (Project Limestone), Mohd. Azlan Jayasilan (UNIMAS), Giam Xingli (University of Tennessee), Sara Bumrungsri (Prince of Songkla University), PERHILITAN, Tree Climbers Malaysia, Cintai Tioman (Reef Check)Lindsay Gasik (Year of the Durian), Anak Rimba Books

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DISCOVER our pioneering work on flying fox pollination of durian!

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GET ACQUAINTED with the official ‘Conservation Roadmap for Flying Foxes Pteropus spp. in Peninsular Malaysia’

Island Flying Fox (Pteropus hypomelanus) on Tioman Island, Malaysia_COPYRIGHT SHEEMA AZIZ
Pteropus hypomelanus

Our work on flying fox conservation started in 2011, and led to the official creation of Project Pteropus in 2013. Project Pteropus is Malaysia’s only project focused on the conservation ecology of flying foxes (Pteropus spp.) and other Old World fruit bats (Pteropodidae). Peninsular Malaysia’s two flying fox species (Pteropus hypomelanusP. vampyrus) are locally Endangered due to hunting and habitat loss, yet still classified as low conservation priorities on the IUCN Red List. The disproportionate research/media focus on how bats are linked to zoonotic disease and public health issues, without parallel efforts to understand their important roles and benefits to humans, has created negative perceptions of these bats whilst ignoring their conservation needs.

This underscores the importance of localised conservation action to address country-specific flying fox declines, and Project Pteropus was established specifically to address these gaps in research and conservation. Understanding bat ecosystem services and conflict situations with humans is a crucial step towards developing effective conservation solutions. Our long-term approach is to investigate, understand, document, and highlight fruit bat ecosystem services such as durian (Durio zibethinus) pollination and island eco-tourism – but also to understand and address situations of conflict between fruit bats and humans, as a two-pronged strategy to promote conservation of fruit bats and their habitats.

Phase 2 of Project Pteropus (2018-2020) was a crossover with Project Limestone, as our scope has now expanded to include the cave nectar bat (Eonycteris spelaea) and rousettes (Rousettus spp.). As such, fruit bat conservation will also benefit other cave-roosting bats and their karst habitats, and also the mangrove habitats of long-tongued nectar bats (Macroglossus spp.). Our new phase of research and conservation work thus covers all pteropodid bat pollinators. We are engaging fruit growers and island residents constructively as equal partners to explore collaborative solutions throughout Peninsular Malaysia.

Our specific objectives:

(1) Assess and monitor flying fox (Pteropus spp.) populations across Peninsular Malaysia, and help protect and manage their critical habitat/refugia.

(2) Work through partnerships with key durian growers and other relevant stakeholders in Peninsular Malaysia to conduct research on and highlight the critical pollination services provided by fruit bats (all relevant Pteropodidae species) to the durian industry.

(3) Improve the standard of information available to facilitate fruit bat conservation, and support outreach efforts targeted at raising awareness and promoting positive attitudes towards fruit bats, including mainstreaming bats in the public consciousness and eco-tourism sector through partnerships with other organisations.

We were also involved in a SEABCRU regional project funded by USFWS to address hunting of flying foxes (2018-2019).

We do not conduct research on disease ecology e.g. virology, zoonoses, or ectoparasites, but we welcome collaborations relevant to our work that employ a genuinely holistic, One Health approach to disease ecology, prioritising the welfare of wild animals and their habitats alongside human health, and incorporating a strong pro-conservation message that strives to avoid demonising or creating fear of bats. However, please note that we do not conduct any virus or ectoparasite sampling work.

Read our FAQ on bats and COVID-19

Project Pteropus Logo_2020

Current project donors:

MANDAI_NF_FA_SCREEN_Rufford logo       bat-conservation-international-round        NCTF

Past project donors:


640px-University_of_Southampton_Logo.svg Rufford logo the habitat foundation BCI logo logo-marinescape