The Livingstone’s fruit bat, or Pteropus livingstonii, is a flying mammal native to the Comoros. It is only found on the islands of Anjouan and Mohéli. It is one of the symbolic, flagship species in the Comoros and the most endangered, with a population of only 1,200. It is the fourth biggest species of bat in the world with a wingspan of up to 1.5 – 2 metres. They are very selective in terms of their habitat; they prefer mountainous areas with very steep inclines and they roost in specific, indigenous trees.
What does Dahari do?
The four-person environmental team carries out scientific research into the species and its population levels, as well as its long-term conservation.
How? Thanks to research carried out by the Dahari team and international researchers between 2009 and 2012, the species has just been listed as critically endangered by the IUCN. This is an important development which will help the Comoros mobilise more resources for conservation. The study showed that some of Anjouan’s roosts have disappeared over the last ten years and that most of the remaining roosts are threatened by landslides, deforestation (at one of the highest rates in the world) and the expansion of agricultural land.
The research paper and all accompanying analysis has been published in the academic journal Oryx.
The Dahari team is leading parallel studies to evaluate their habitat (the roosts) and is biannually monitoring (in the dry and rainy seasons) the population in the 16 roosts in Anjouan. We intend to extend this to Mohéli in 2017. We collaborate with the landowners and the local communities so as to ensure the protection and conservation of the roosting sites. A system of payments for ecosystem services (PES) has been put in place to guarantee that the local communities will not lose out from these conservation measures and indeed that they will benefit from them.
The aim of the system is to cover the potential costs of the adoption of agricultural practices compatible with the conservation of roosting sites, as well as compensating landowners who wish to regenerate the natural forest in their area.
The system is currently in place for two pilot roosting sites. With funding from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), we plan to extend this initiative to five other roosts in 2017, thus enabling us to guarantee the long-term survival of around a third of the population of this magnificent species, a symbol of conservation in the Comoros.