Publication Date

Fall 2012

Program Name

Tanzania: Zanzibar: Coastal Ecology and Natural Resource Management

Abstract

This study assesses the current population of Pemba Flying Fox, Pteropusvoeltzkowi, at four key locations on Pemba Island off the coast of Tanzania previously noted as highly populated roost sites: Ngezi National Forest, Wete, Kidike, and MsituwaMbiji. We evaluate local knowledge, perceptions, and practices of communities surrounding the Pemba Flying Fox. This study also documents roosting and migratory patterns of the bats. We hypothesize a growth in bat population, an overall positive community perception of the bats, and a greater amount of conflict between fruit farmers and Pteropusvoeltzkowi. Results showed a decrease in estimated population. Additionally, reverse correlation was found between mean roost tree height and colony size, and 50% of bats roosting in Antiaristoxicaria. MsituwaMbiji had the highest level of habitat disruption while Kidike showed the lowest. All informants had a positive opinion on bats. For all roost sites except Ngezi, all respondents claimed the nearby roost site had been in use for a “long time”. All respondents mentioned that bats could be seen every day and every season, although about half of respondents reported seasonal variation. Little evidence of farmer-bat conflict was found, and most respondents claimed that no bat hunting was done in the area. However, physical evidence suggested that hunting was still ongoing. About half of all residents interviewed knew of no ongoing educational efforts concerning the bats. Evidence suggests that colonies of bats are migrating to protected areas, forming larger colonies in smaller spatial areas with a consistent proportion of available tall trees, forcing bats to occupy smaller roosting trees. However, this could be due to the negligible hunting pressure found in the areas with larger colonies. Deforestation proves a considerable threat to continued conservation of the Pemba Flying Fox. Environmental education and community-based protection organizations based on economic, environmental and intrinsic appreciation of the bats is the key to this species’ continued success.

Disciplines

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology | Natural Resources and Conservation | Population Biology

 

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