In many countries where fruit bats and man coexist, the practice of hunting and eating bats is a common and entrenched custom. Some communities believe eating fruit bats can cure such ailments as asthma and kidney complaints. Fruit bats can be found for sale dead or live in markets or by street vendors in Indonesia, Malaysia, Southeast Asia and Africa.
In fact a special day each year is set aside in Dinigul, India where the local men and boys spend all day killing flying foxes with rifles, sling shots, and spears.
Much of our attention has been focused on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, where the business of hunting and selling fruit bats has become international. We have found Sulawesi exports their bats to Malaysia and to other islands of Indonesia. We have found in north Sulawesi all the large flying fox species Pteropus and Acerodon are gone, and bat hunters must travel days to find fruit bats to supply the demand.
During market surveys in 1997 and 2000 we estimated thousands of fruit bats are being slaughter each year
on the island of Sulawesi. The way these intelligent, beautiful, and beneficial bats are being mistreated, and abused before being killed is disturbing and disheartening.