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Badrane Ben Ali Abdou and Ishaka Said downloading GPS tag data in the Salamani-Anjouan forest

In search of key trees for Livingstones flying foxes

When night falls and the glow of the stars becomes our only companion, a very different world awakens. In the darkness, Livingstone's Fruit Bats take flight, crossing the skies in search of food.

Since 2018, in collaboration with the University of Comoros et Bat Conservation International, we carry out individual monitoring of flying foxes with GPS tags to understand how this endemic species of the Comoros uses the landscape.

Our technician Badrane Ben Ali Abdou provides us with information on the progress of the work.

Steps for identifying key trees

24 bats equipped with this tracking technology gradually reveal to us the trees used for their food and their roost sites thanks to location points coming from GPS tags.

“After collecting GPS data from the flying foxes that we have tagged, we identify places that are often frequented using GIS. Then, we organize visits to the identified locations to identify the trees used on site,” says Badrane.

”Once on site, we use the data extracted from the tags to identify the tree close to the indicated GPS point. ”

75% of food trees are native species

“Then we identify the species of tree by observing the fruits it has, the quality of the adult or dry flowers and the presence of flower buds. We can recognize the names of most trees by referring to our database to be certain of the tree type.” At this stage, we can also notice the presence or absence of bat bites to determine if it is feeding on the tree elements.

Since August, we have studied 270 trees of 26 different species from 16 families. 75% of all trees visited are native species.

This information will guide Dahari's reforestation programs by maximizing the planting of species important to the flying fox. Key areas and trees in the landscape will also be integrated into the program conservation agreements.

Unveil dormitory sites

This work also allows the identification of bat dormitory sites.

“By taking into account the continued presence of the bat at rest, we can also see if it is a dormitory site. Before making a decision, the team must carry out surveillance on the site for 24 hours and count the number of individuals using the surrounding trees. »

The tree monitoring program opens a window to continue to preserve Livingstone's bats and their essential role in the forest.

Learn more of the use of GPS tags on bats.