In terms of conservation, the Livingstone Fruit Bat is Dahari’s main priority. Ecological studies carried out by the ECDD Project have shown that many bat roosts in Anjouan have disappeared over the last ten years and that most of the remaining roosts are threatenedby landslides, deforestation and the extension of agricultural land. Dahari was involved in revising the species’ status for the IUCN’s red list, which recommends that the species be listed as ‘Critically Endangered’(CE) instead of ‘Endangered’ (EN). Dahari prioritises three elements in its conservation programme for the Livingstone Fruit Bat:
- The protection of roost sites.Thanks to the historical monitoring of the Livingstone Fruit Bat population organised by the NGO Action Comores and its partners, we know that these bats are loyal to their roosts and that protecting these is very important for the species’ conservation.The roosts are situated in forest sites at altitudes above 500 metres in Anjouan and 200 metres in Mohé In order to protect these sites, Dahari is developing a project based on a payment for ecosystem servicesapproach, with the aim ofworking with landowners in the vicinity of roost sites to promote agricultural practices that are compatible with safeguarding roosts, whilst the farmers themselves arecompensated for any loss of income. Work in the field starts in September 2015 with the following principal objectives:
- Completion of research into land use, andrevenues and profits relating to plots of land in three pilot roost sites.
- Identification of areas for replanting trees and adoption of less intensive land use management in order to reduce the riskof landslides and human disturbance in roost sites.
- Organisation of participatory meetings with landowners and village committees in order to identify roles, objectives, monitoring and evaluation processes, sanctions and profit sharing.
- Regular monitoring of the size of Livingstone Fruit Bat populations and the state of roost sites. Dahari conducts biannual monitoring (in dry and wet seasons) of the bat population of each roost site. Technicianscount the bats in each roost site and evaluate changes in habitat around these sites. This is essential for evaluating the bat population and their habitat trends and for determining the species’ threat level.
- A research programme for better identification of conservation needs. There is very little information available about the dietaryneedsof the Livingstone Fruit Bat, particularlyin relation to which species of trees they prefer in certain regions and feeding zones. Filling these gaps in our knowledge will help to identify what conservation interventions are needed outside the roost sites andwhich areas of forest should be prioritisedfor conservation and reforestation. In partnership with universities based in England, Dahari is developing a proposal for a research project based on the genetic analysis of this species’ faeces. This project will also look at the migration rates between roosts.