Video update 8: Malaysia’s Flying Foxes

Today is Bat Appreciation Day!

Bats are wonderful animals, and they do so much for us! Malaysia is home to our very own Keluang, or Flying Foxes — some of the largest fruit bats in the world. Fruit bats are some of the few animals with a dual role of both pollinators and seed dispersers, and function as highly efficient night-time gardeners who can fly across vast distances.

However, their populations are declining at an alarming rate. Prejudiced and misunderstood, flying foxes are often killed despite their importance in maintaining the health of our tropical ecosystems.

This short video introduces you to Malaysia’s wonderful flying foxes and encourages you to support their protection and conservation, highlighting the vital ecological roles of these fascinating animals through never-before-seen footage from the wild.

Written, produced and directed by Ng Wen Qing for Project Pteropus, Rimba. Big thanks also to Sanjitpaal Singh of Jitspics and Xploregaia, and Kapas Conservation Club for contributing footage. Bahasa Malaysia, Cantonese, and Mandarin versions available further below.

This #BatAppreciationDay, let’s all take a moment to #thankthebats and pledge to protect them  🦇

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Bat Week 2019: Remember to thank the bats for our durian!

The last week of October is official International #BatWeek! It takes place from the 24th to the 31st. Download press kit here.

It’s an opportunity to celebrate all the many different ways bats are awesome, and to remember why we humans need them, and also to overturn the prevailing negative images and associations with bats that get particularly ramped up during this time of the year.

Bats are NOT scary, spooky, creepy, or evil. Bats are helping us! To kick off Bat Week 2019 and explain how bats help people in Southeast Asia specifically, Project Pteropus has produced this informative and educational video on how durian trees get pollinated by fruit bats, which is based on the results of our pioneering research.

Using watercolour drawings by local artist Novia Shin, and animated by Penang-based production company Hatchtag Media, it was made possible through partnerships with the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Year of the Durian, Green Acres Orchard, Cintai Tioman, the Southeast Asian Bat Conservation Research Unit, and Mabuwaya Foundation – thanks to grants generously provided by the Rufford Foundation, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and The Habitat Foundation.

This video is also available in Malay and Mandarin (Simplified Chinese subtitles). If you would like to obtain a copy for your own non-profit conservation outreach or environmental education purposes, please contact Sheema.

Happy Bat Week and let’s look forward to the next durian season when we can #thankthebats again!!

 

Publication update 21: Project Pteropus press release: Durian Industry May Suffer Without Endangered Fruit Bats

Flying foxes pollinate regionally important fruit crop

Kuala Lumpur, 19 September 2017 – Scientists here have discovered that Southeast Asia’s highly popular durian tree is pollinated by locally endangered fruit bats known as flying foxes.

By putting camera traps in durian trees on Tioman Island, Malaysia, researchers collected video evidence showing the island flying fox (Pteropus hypomelanus) pollinating durian flowers, leading to the production of healthy durian fruit. The study has just been published in the journal Ecology and Evolution.

Fig.3
Still shots from a video recording of a flying fox feeding on durian flower nectar.

The spiky tropical durian fruit is highly prized throughout its native region. A ubiquitous icon of Southeast Asian culture, it is also a lucrative industry, generating millions of US dollars in local and international trade. And these economic profits owe a huge debt to bats.

Commonly referred to as flying foxes, large fruit bats of the genus Pteropus are severely threatened by hunting and deforestation. They are often sold and eaten as exotic meat due to an unsubstantiated belief that consuming them can help cure asthma and other respiratory problems.

On top of this, they are also persecuted and killed as agricultural pests, as some people claim that the bats cause damage and economic loss by feeding on cultivated fruits. Consequently, these factors have led to severe declines in flying fox populations worldwide.

Yet these bats actually play very important roles as seed dispersers and pollinators in rainforests, especially on islands. The disappearance of flying foxes could thus have disastrous repercussions for tropical ecosystems. Now, this international team of researchers from Malaysia, France, India, and Thailand, in collaboration with Tree Climbers Malaysia, has found that Southeast Asia’s durian supply could be affected too. Continue reading