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FIELD PROGRAMS

We are working with biology students from Andalas University in Padang, West Sumatra, in developing artificial bat roost for small fruit bats and insect eating bats. These artificial roost will be place in secondary growth forest where large trees have been logged. This method has been used in Latin America with great success, and we are hoping for the same results.

Flying Fox Conservation Fund is working towards opening a fruit bat rescue, rehabilitation, captive breeding, and research center on the island of Sulawesi.This center will be the first of it's kind in all of Indonesia. The facility will help the Sulawesi wildlife personnel place fruit bats rescued from markets for later release, the center will be used to educated local people about the beneficial role bats play in their everyday lives. Flying Fox Conservation Fund will start a captive breeding program for threatened and endangered fruit bats. The center will be used by researchers and students to studied fruit bats in captivity. Also if there is a need, our facility will be sanctuary for Sulawesi's other endangered wildlife.

We are in the early stages of planning a conservation educational campaign in the Solomon Islands. Many of the fruit bats found in the Solomon Islands are endemic (which means they are found nowhere else in the world). One genus of fruit bats are Pteralopex or Monkey face fruit bats, these bats are highly endangered and are in need of immediate action.

Areas Targeted for Conservation

Indonesia is biologically one of the richest countries in the world. This is due to it's great size, it's complex geological history, it's 17,000 islands on which endemic species have developed, and the variety of niches that exist within the diverse vegetation found there. 

 Indonesian fruit bat fauna comprises 62 species representing 38 per cent of the world's total. Our knowledge of Indonesian bat fauna varies depending on if field surveys or collections have been made. Widely collected and popular mammals are well documented, however new species are being discovered in some remote areas. In 1997 while conducting a field survey on the Mentawai Islands, off the west coast of Sumatra, we found 4 fruit bat species and 6 bats species not known to exist there before and a new species of (Hipposideros) old world leaf nose bat.

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Sulawesi
On the equator, in the heart of Indonesia, is a land of active volcanoes, dramatic mountains, lush lowland rain forests, and misty montane cloud forests. Its coastline is dotted with beautiful beaches and mangroves, and its coral reefs are some of the most pristine in the world. This land is Sulawesi, home to an exotic array of wildlife, including no less than 62 species of bats.
The 19th-century naturalist Alfred Russell Wallace was the first to observe that the Indonesian archipelago is inhabited by two distinct sets of wildlife--one apparently belonging to the Asian continent and one to the Pacific-Australian continent. Wallace suggested that Sulawesi, which lies adjacent to the boundary between these two continents, may at one time have been connected to both.

Sulawesi is famous for its unusual wildlife, such as the odd looking babirusa (babi means pig and rusa means deer in Indonesian). Male babirusas have both upper and lower tusks; the top set grows up through the skull and curls back into the forehead. Of the 127 mammal species native to Sulawesi, 79 of them are endemic, that is, they exist nowhere else on earth.

Bats make up approximately half of all the mammal species in Sulawesi. Even though the island is substantially smaller than Borneo, Sumatra, or New Guinea, it boasts a greater number of species of old-world fruit bats (Pteropodidae). It also has the greatest number of cave-dwelling fruit bat species found anywhere in the world. Sulawesi fruit bats range in size from large, 700-gram, black flying foxes (Pteropus alecto) to the petite black-capped fruit bat (Chironax melancephalus), which, at only 12 to 17 grams, is one of the smallest flying foxes in the world. Many have distinct features; the Wallace's fruit bat (Styloctenium wallacei) has badger-like facial stripes; Neopteryx frosti (no known common name) is distinguished by a reticulated pattern on its wing membrane; and the Sulawesi flying fox (Acerodon celebensis) has blond fur.

Solomon Islands
The Solomon archipelago is located just off the eastern side of Papua New Guinea. This widely scattered group of islands stretches 1,600 km south-east towards the Vanuatu Archipelago and is notable for its exceptional biodiversity.

There is a clear difference between the mammalian faunas of the Solomon Islands and the Bismarck Archipelago and richer New Guinea to the west. Except for pteropodid bats, the Solomons and Bismarcks have many fewer mammals than New Guinea, and the Solomons, unlike New Britain, contain no marsupials. East beyond the Solomons there are even fewer mammal species. Almost all the mammal species have their origins in or via New Guinea.

Although the Solomon Islands contain only forty-seven mammal species, a remarkable twenty-six of those species are endemic or near endemic, including fifteen pteropodid bats (Dobsonia, Melonycteris, Nyctimene, Pteralopex, Pteropus), a horseshoe bat (Anthops), and one molossid bat (Chaerephon) . Three of the fruit bats - Bougainville monkey-faced bat (Pteralopex ancep), Guadalcanal monkey-faced bat (Pteralopex atrata), and montane monkey-faced bat (Pteralopex pulchr) are critically endangered.

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Madagascar
The island of Madagascar has been a source of intense interest to naturalists for several centuries. About 2,000 miles long and 350 miles across at its widest point, the island separated from mainland Africa over 100 million years ago, its relative isolation allowing for the evolution of unique and endemic plant and animal groups. It was also one of the last major land masses to be colonized by humans, with people arriving as recently as 2,000 years ago. Although Madagascar lies only about 250 miles from mainland Africa, it appears that the major wave of human colonization came from Indonesia.

Madagascar seems to be a zoogeographical composite, where representatives of diverse ranges come together in a unique setting. Taken as a whole, this suggests a rich evolutionary story, which is still not well understood. Some of its most well-known endemic residents are the lemurs, a primitive group of primates that shows a tremendous diversity in habitat, body size, and appearance. Like many of Madagascar's endemic mammals, however, lemurs are rapidly facing danger of extinction due to habitat loss and hunting pressures. Since the arrival of humans, a number of taxa have gone extinct, including the largest known lemur, the koala lemur (Megaladapis).

Far less known than Madagascar's famous lemurs are its bats. About 28 species of bats, representing seven families, inhabit the islands. One of the families, Myzopodidae, consists of a single species: the Old World sucker-footed bat (Myzopoda aurita) is named for the "suction cup" on its thumb and is found mostly on Madagascar. Once believed to be extremely rare, recent work has suggested that it is more common than was thought. Like most of Madagascar's bats, very little is known of its ecology. It has been rumored to roost in the fronds of the traveler's palm (Ravenalla madagascariensis), the national plant of Madagascar.

Madagascar is also home to three species of flying foxes, all of which are endemic to the island. The Madagascar rousette bat (Rousettus madagascariensis) is the smallest and apparently the most common of the three. Recent work at the Molecular Systematics Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin Zoological Museum suggests that this bat has strong affinities with a group of rousette bats that are found on the African mainland.

In contrast, the Madagascar flying fox, the largest of the fruit bats found on the island, is certainly of Asian or Indonesian origin. The genus Pteropus, found from Australia and the Pacific islands to Southeast Asia and India, represents something of a distributional anomaly and poses a nagging biogeographical puzzle. Although it occurs on Madagascar and on Mafia and Pemba Islands, only 6 and 18 miles, respectively, from the mainland coast of Africa, it is not found on the African continent itself. This is especially intriguing since these bats routinely travel this far in a single night's foraging.

The Malagasy straw-colored fruit bat (Eidolon dupraeneum) is Madagascar's third flying fox. Until recently this bat was considered to represent an extension of the range of the African straw-colored fruit bat (E. helvum), but recent studies have suggested that it is, in fact, a distinct species.