flying-foxes

I really miss having time to dedicate myself to a worthwhile cause, such as raising orphaned Bats who lost their Mother’s due to habitat destruction and releasing them in to the wild. If I didn’t need money to live I would volunteer all of my time, no superficial desires or possessions can ever give me the same satisfaction as saving the life of at least one animal. These two Black Flying Foxes are Scarlet (left) and Connor (right) who I cared for for three months before they were released. 

Flying Foxes
Chiroptera: Pteropodidae: Pteropus

Genus Pteropus
Illustration by *JennyParks

Done as part of a larger commission for a research project by Susan M. Tsang [a CCNY grad student] who studies the phylogeography of Southeast Asian animals, particularly that of flying foxes  Pteropus, she says, is an ideal focal taxon for Southeast Asian biogeographic studies.

  • Flying foxes are Old World fruit bats that play an  important role in seed dispersal in island ecosystems.
  • They are distinct evolutionarily from other bats in their reliance on sight and smell for navigation and for their plant-based diet.
  • They are also increasingly recognized as natural reservoir hosts for emerging infectious pathogens.

Flying foxes have evolved with these pathogens so they are not harmed by them, but as humans and agricultural activity increasingly encroach on natural habitats, we increase the potential of transmitting pathogens between organisms that would not naturally co-occur otherwise.

Furthermore, flying foxes are hunted heavily as part of the bushmeat trade or by farmers who view them as pests. A majority of flying foxes are endangered and their dizzying population declines are a major cause for concern to biologists.

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A quiet Sunday afternoon at the football oval at Kunbarlanja in Western Arnhem Land. No game on today so not much for the Black Flying Foxes (Pteropus alecto) to do except hang around in a big mahogany tree while keeping an eye out for swooping Whistling Kites hoping to disturb a mother sufficiently for her to drop her baby. While generally black, P. alecto has a bright orange patch on the back of the neck. Not a big roost of the bats…maybe only 100. Last year in Arnhem Land while in a helicopter I came across a gathering of at least tens of thousands of flying foxes. Spectacular sight it was.