A big sized and robust animal, it is the only European fruit bat. It occurs in Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Iran, Pakistan, Cyprus and South Turkey. It feeds on soft fruit of uncultivated plants, but also trees of economic importance. It roosts in caves and mines, forming colonies of up to several thousand specimens. Until very recently, it was probably the most common and abundant bat species in Cyprus.
For several decades (from the early 1900s, until 1990) Rousettus aegyptiacus was declared as an agricultural pest by the Cypriot government. Attempts to control the population of fruit bats included fumigation of roosts, shooting and the purchase of dead bats. Although fruit bats are now protected by the Cypriot and European legislation, illegal killings and destruction of its roosts is still threatening R. aegyptiacus and other cave-dwelling species. Additional threats are the use of agrochemicals, the nuisance caused by visitors and the collapse of mines used as roosts by the species. In the recent years a dramatic decline of the species’ population throughout the island had been reported.
Priorities for the species are:
1. Systematic monitoring of the species’ colonies.
2. Identification of critical feeding areas.
3. Clarification of the reasons behind the collapse of the species’ population.
4. Restoration and protection of the species’ refuges.
5. Public awareness.
6. Conservation genetics study.
Last Modified at: 11/12/2015 12:11:52 PM