Bat Week 2020: A Celebration of Bats in Asia-Pacific Cultures

Contrary to today’s Western-influenced perceptions of bats being scary or spooky, research by Project Pteropus has uncovered a treasure trove of positive bat symbolism in numerous cultures across the Asia-Pacific region! In this part of the world, our ancestors traditionally revered and celebrated bats, recognising how amazing and inspirational these animals really are.

We really wanted to find a way to highlight and share the multitude of positive beliefs around bats that we found in the many cultures within the region. The result is this stunning map by Malaysian artist Reimena Yee.

Facebook: @reimenaashelyee
Instagram: @reimenayee
Twitter: @reimenayee

We’ll be making this available as a poster very soon, so watch this space – but in the meantime, it will be included in our BAT WEEK GIVEAWAY, so for those in Malaysia: don’t forget to follow us, share this post and include the right hashtags, PLUS tag 3 friends to stand a chance at winning it!! And remember: if you don’t follow ALL 3 instructions then we can’t include you in the giveaway!

Project update 22: Project Pteropus in BATS Magazine

Project Pteropus has been featured as the cover story in the fall issue of Bat Conservation International‘s BATS Magazine! Featuring gorgeous flying fox photos contributed by talented wildlife photographer Sanjitpaal Singh, it tells the story of how Sheema started her fruit bat research and conservation initiative for Peninsular Malaysia, and also gives an overview of our current, ongoing work.

Click on the image below to get acquainted with the history of Project Pteropus, and to also catch up on what we’ve been busy with! Plus, stay tuned and follow our social media channels to find out how we’ll be honouring Bat Week, coming up soon!!

We are super grateful to Jon Flanders, Lynn Davies, and Kristen Pope for this coverage, and also to BCI for funding Phase 1 of Project Pteropus.

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