Sir Peter Scott Fund project: Flying Fox, Madagascar
- To engage with and raise awareness in communities towards flying fox conservation;
- To establish incentive-based ways to conserve threatened roosts
The key objective is to engage local Malagasy communities in the conservation of the Madagascan Flying Fox (Pteropus rufus), which is hunted for bush meat and whose habitat is threatened by agriculture and forest fires.
(January 2008) A successful community meeting in Fokontany Analabe, Malagasy brought together over 40 participants from local villages, their mayors, village leaders and the chief local representative of the Ministry of Environment, Water, Forests and Tourism.
As a result, five participating villages established their own committees to protect three local bat roosts of over 3,000 flying foxes. In doing so they agreed to implement and raise awareness of the ‘dina’ (social charter), established in 2005, which includes conservation of the roosts.
In accordance with the project goals it was agreed to set up village fire patrols to protect flying fox habitat and to report any infringements on these areas to the local authority.
(March 2008) Four forest fragments with large colonies of flying foxes were visited followed by two community workshops aimed to promote community management. All four sites are at risk from bush fires and the conversion of land for agriculture, as well as hunting.
At one site alone there are between 800 and 1,000 flying foxes and the forest fragment plays a vital role in providing natural resources for nearby agriculture.
Data on these roosts have been submitted for inclusion in future protected areas planning.
The community workshops enabled local stakeholders to take part in developing a strategic plan to protect forest areas containing flying fox roosts. The sustainable management of these natural resources is beneficial to both the flying fox and local people. Measures agreed included reduced extraction of wood and non-timber products used by bats and the registration with local government of three village-based associations to manage the forest areas under threat.
(May 2008) Two more village committees to protect local bat roosts were started in Ambakaona and Ambohidray, with a further three due to go ahead by July.
Return visits to these communities is planned for October 2008 to follow up on the work achieved.
(October 2009) The project has now been successfully completed. As a result of high attendance at community and committee meetings, an increased awareness about flying foxes at local, district and regional levels has been achieved. Current threats to the roosts have been identified, and three forest fragments have obtained temporary protected area status. As part of the ongoing process in Madagascar to expand the protected area network, the team was able to integrate the flying fox roosts sites with a suite of other areas that were awarded preliminary status as protected areas. Their creation has helped to harness a desire by local people to conserve the remaining forest fragments, giving the flying fox roosts a much better long-term chance of survival.