Fruit bats have it tougher than other mammals

Thu May 14, 2009 8:29am EDT
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By Sarah Ktisti

NICOSIA (Reuters Life!) - Fruit bats are getting a raw deal when it comes to their survival, European experts on the endangered mammal said on Thursday.

The furry creatures' penchant for juicy fruit has made them enemy number one on the fruit farmer's hit list, they told a conference in Cyprus.

"Fruit bats are generally having a tougher time than other mammals," co-chair of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Bat Specialist Group, Paul Racey said.

There are 41,000 species of bat worldwide and 16,000 of these are under threat from extinction.

Cyprus is the only country in Europe which is home to the fruit bat.

Centuries of conflict between fruit farmers and the "flying fox" pillaging their crops, as was the case in Cyprus, almost wiped out the island's bat population.

"The authorities would hand out free cartridges to keep bat numbers down," said conservation expert Andreas Demetropoulos.

In line with Cyprus's EU accession, fruit bats came under the protection of Natura 2000 -- an international convention for the protection of endangered species.   Continued...

<p>Fruit bats rest on tree branches within the forested area of Subic Bay in the province of Olongapo, north of Manila March 6, 2009. REUTERS/John Javellana</p>