Livingstone's fruit bat
Of the approximately 1,100 species of bat that live worldwide, Livingstone’s fruit bat is one of the largest and faces the greatest risk of extinction. In the islands of the Comoros where it lives, precious little forest remains – the islands are also home to a poor and rapidly expanding human population. If areas that the bats depend on for their survival are not protected, this amazing species faces the risk of extinction in the near future.
The first Livingstone's bats arrived at Durrell in 1992 – the species had never been kept in captivity before and bats had to be brought from the steep forested slopes that they call home. This was a difficult exercise and it took four expeditions to catch enough bats for a successful start to the captive breeding programme designed to safeguard the species from being wiped out.
The smaller Rodrigues fruit bat from the Mascarene island of Rodrigues is also kept at Durrell in Jersey – a breeding programme was begun in 1976 when the species teetered on the brink of extinction. A thriving captive population now safeguards the species should disaster strike in the wild, and this success has helped in establishing a similar programme for the Livingstone’s.
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