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Madagascar Conservation & Development

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Bats as bushmeat in Madagascar

RKB Jenkins, PA Racey

Abstract


Bats are eaten by people throughout Madagascar and although
the larger species like Pteropus rufus, Eidolon dupreanum,
Rousettus madagascariensis and Hipposideros commersoni are
preferred, small insectivorous bats are also eaten. The national
hunting season for bats is widely ignored and both unsuitable
hunting practices and high offtake represent a serious threat
to bat populations in some areas. Bat bushmeat may be an
important source of protein for Malagasy people during periods
of food shortage but in general there are few data on the socioeconomic and cultural importance of bats. Fruit bats produce a single offspring per year and are therefore susceptible to over - hunting. Nevertheless, large roosts offer the possibility of community managed harvests to secure the colony and provide a source of meat but further research is needed before this can be considered. Roost sites also present the best focus for conservation and greater effort is needed to control hunting using existing legislation and flexible community - based solutions that are sensitive to the local context. The threat of pathogen transfer from bats to people is of growing concern as more bat species are identified as vectors of emergent viral diseases.



http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/mcd.v3i1.44132
AJOL African Journals Online