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A rapid assessment of flying fox (Pteropus spp.) colonies in Cambodia



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© Centre for Biodiversity Conservation, Phnom Penh
S. Ravon et al.
Cambodian Journal of Natural History 2014 (1) 1418
Short Communication
A rapid assessment of ying fox (
spp.) colonies in
Sébastien RAVON1, Neil M. FUREY2,*, HUL Vibol3 and Julien CAPPELLE1,4
1 Institut Pasteur du Cambodge, Epidemiology and Public Health Unit, BP983, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
2 Fauna & Flora International (Cambodia Programme), PO Box 1380, No. 19, Street 360, Boeng Keng Kong 1, Phnom
Penh, 12000, Cambodia.
3 Institut Pasteur du Cambodge, Virology Unit, BP983, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
4 Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement (CIRAD), UR Animal et
Gestion Intégrée des Risques (AGIRs), F-34398, Montpellier, France.
*Corresponding author. Email neil.furey@fauna-
Paper submitted 11 May 2014, revised manuscript accepted 10 July 2014.
CITATION: Ravon, S., Furey, N.M., Hul V. & Cappelle, J. (2014) A rapid assessment of ying fox (Pteropus spp.) colonies in
Cambodia. Cambodian Journal of Natural History, 2014, 14–18.
Flying foxes (Chiroptera: Pteropodidae: Pteropus) are
among the few wide-ranging frugivores still found
in many parts of Southeast Asia and play important
seed-dispersion and pollination roles in their ecosys-
tems (Cox et al., 1991; Fujita & Tu le, 1991; Struebig et
al., 2007). Three ying fox species were depicted for
Cambodia in the range maps of Francis (2008): large
ying fox Pteropus vampyrus, Lyle’s ying fox P. lylei
and island ying fox P. hypomelanus. These species are
currently considered to be globally Near-threatened,
Vulnerable and Least Concern by the IUCN (Bates et
al., 2008; Bumrungsri et al., 2008; Francis et al., 2008)
respectively, and as nationally common (P. vampyrus
and P. lylei) or nationally rare (P. hypomelanus) in
Cambodian legislation (MAFF, 2007). All three species
are included in Appendix II of CITES, but almost
nothing is known about their conservation status in
Cambodia. Although likely present, the occurrence
of P. vampyrus remains uncon rmed, having yet to
be validated by the unequivocal documentation of a
live animal or museum specimen to our knowledge.
As colony surveys are central to determining conser-
vation priorities for ying foxes (Mickleburgh et al.,
1992), we provide here the ndings of a rapid assess-
ment of pteropodid colonies in Cambodia.
Using an unpublished list of roost sites provided
by the Wildlife Conservation Society, supplemented
by additional sites reported by local eld workers,
we conducted eld surveys between June 2013 and
February 2014 to assess all of the known or suspected
Pteropus colonies in Cambodia. At every site, the
location and basic se ing of the roost environment
was recorded and standardized estimates of roost
populations made using direct census methods, and,
where possible, nightly dispersal counts (Kunz et al.,
1996). E orts were also made to identify the species
present at each site, but because these necessarily
relied upon impressions of relative size (Francis,
2008) using binoculars, species identi cations were
uncertain and so no a empts were made to estimate
total population sizes for each species. As P. hypome-
lanus primarily occurs in coastal areas and on marine
islands, however (Francis, 2008), we assumed that the
species present at all inland sites surveyed were P.
lylei and/or P. vampyrus (Fig. 1).
Direct censuses were undertaken by visually
counting the bats during the day at each site with the
aid of 8 x 42 binoculars and manual hand-counters,
whereas nightly dispersal counts began at dusk when
the bats emerged to forage until all had left the roost
site (typically from 1830 h to 1910 h). The la er was
© Centre for Biodiversity Conservation, Phnom PenhCambodian Journal of Natural History 2014 (1) 1418
Flying fox colonies
site-based conservationists around the country, it
appears likely these comprise most of the ying fox
colonies in Cambodia. (The possibility that other
colonies might be discovered in the future cannot be
excluded, however, particularly in poorly surveyed
coastal regions and areas surrounding the Tonle Sap
Lake). At least one interview was completed at each
site. According to local informants, all of the colonies
assessed were present year-round. O spring were
largely reported by respondents as appearing in April
each year, and this is supported by monthly observa-
tions at the Wat Pi Chey Sa Kor (Kandal Province) and
Wat Bay Dam Ram (Ba ambang Province) colonies
where mating takes place in November and parturi-
tion primarily occurs in April (Hul, 2013; J. Cappelle,
unpublished data).
Most of the roost sites were situated inside the
grounds or within the vicinity of a religious or govern-
con rmed by checking roost trees with a spotlight
after the dispersal count at each site. Due to the
density of bats and brevity of the evening dispersal,
in some instances bats were counted in groups of 10
as they dispersed. The higher count from the two
methods was rounded down to the nearest hundred
and accepted as the estimated population size for a
given site. Interviews were also undertaken by the
rst author with local authorities and residents at
roost sites to determine: (i) the status of the colony
(permanent or seasonal); (ii) annual breeding periods
(de ned as birth periods); (iii) whether the colony
receives any protection; (iv) conservation threats at
each site; and (v) local perceptions concerning the
ying fox colony.
Over the course of the rapid eld survey, 12
roost sites were located and assessed (Table 1, Fig.
2). Based on our experience and discussions with
Fig. 1 Flying foxes on Koh Trong Island on the Mekong River (© Gordon Congdon, left) and Koh Bong Island o the
coast of Cambodia (© Jeremy Holden, right). The species on the left is thought to be P. lylei and the species on the right
P. hypomelanus.
© Centre for Biodiversity Conservation, Phnom Penh
S. Ravon et al.
Cambodian Journal of Natural History 2014 (1) 1418
Fig. 2 Locations and
relative sizes of 12 ying
fox colonies in Cambodia.
Table 1 Summary characteristics of 12 ying fox colonies in Cambodia. Key: * Site where hunting of bats was reported
or observed; 1 DC = Direct Census, ND = Night Dispersal, n/a = not applicable; 2 Value given is the highest gure from
the count methods, rounded down to the nearest hundred.
# Site Name (Province) Latitude,
Longitude Census Date Roost Environment Census
1 Ang Trapeang Thmor
(Banteay Meanchey)
13.804 N,
103.261 E.
14 Aug 2013 One roost tree on small
island in reservoir.
DC 200
2 Wat Bay Dam Ram
(Ba ambang)
12.993 N,
103.161 E.
23 Jun 2013 Pagoda. Three roost
trees in site vicinity.
DC / ND 1,400
3 Royal Gardens *
(Siem Reap)
13.363 N,
103.859 E.
10 Aug 2013 O cial site. 14 roost
trees in urban park.
DC / ND 5,000
4 Kampong Thom *
(Kampong Thom)
12.714 N,
104.883 E.
8 Aug 2013 O cial site. Three roost
trees along roadside.
DC / ND 6,000
5 Koh Trong Island
12.507 N,
105.993 E.
26 Aug 2013 Pagoda. Two roost trees
on site perimeter.
DC 200
6 Koh Chreng Island *
12.361 N,
106.044 E.
27 Aug 2013 Pagoda. 17 roost trees
on site perimeter.
DC 900
7 Wat Srey Santaor *
(Kampong Cham)
11.915 N,
105.183 E.
8 Aug 2013 Pagoda. Small forest on
site perimeter.
n/a Extirpated
8 Council for Development
of Cambodia
(Phnom Penh)
11.577 N,
104.924 E.
18 Oct 2013 O cial site. One roost
tree on site perimeter.
DC / ND 1,800
9 Wat Prek Chey Lech *
11.465 N,
105.235 E.
1 Aug 2013 Pagoda. Five roost trees
on site perimeter.
DC / ND 500
10 Wat Pi Chey Sa Kor *
11.200 N,
105.058 E.
15 Jan 2014 Pagoda. 21 roost trees
on site perimeter.
DC / ND 4,000
11 Wat Veal Lbang
(Prey Veng)
11.173 N,
105.310 E.
17 Jan 2014 Pagoda. 12 roost trees in
site vicinity.
DC 700
12 Koh Bong Island
10.759 N,
103.265 E.
1 Feb 2014 Three roost trees in
forest on small private
DC 200
© Centre for Biodiversity Conservation, Phnom PenhCambodian Journal of Natural History 2014 (1) 1418
Flying fox colonies
colony areas to eliminate misconceptions regarding
their medicinal values and to generate local support
for their protection. To this end, a website (www. has been developed to
gain public information about ying fox colonies
in Cambodia, which we hope will help to stimulate
greater conservation interest in these charismatic and
inherently vulnerable animals.
The authors are grateful to Mr Prak Bali for his assis-
tance in nding ying fox colonies, Benjamin Hayes
for his advice and to the SE Asian Bat Conservation
and Research Unit for their support. We also thank the
two anonymous reviewers who kindly commented on
the text. The study was supported by the SouthEast
Asia Encephalitis project which is funded by Aviesan
Sud and Fondation Total.
Bates, P., Francis, C., Gumal, M., Bumrungsri, S., Walston,
J., Heaney, L. & Mildenstein, T. (2008) Pteropus vampyrus.
In IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. H p://www.> [accessed 2 July 2014].
Bumrungsri, S., Suyanto, A. & Francis, C. (2008) Pteropus
lylei. In IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. H p://www.> [accessed 2 July 2014].
Cox, P.A., Elmqvist, T., Pierson, E.D. & Rainey, W.A. (1991)
Flying foxes as strong interactors in South Paci c island
ecosystems: a conservation hypothesis. Conservation
Biology, 5, 448–454.
Francis, C.M. (2008) A Guide to the Mammals of Southeast Asia.
Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, USA.
Francis, C., Rosell-Ambal, G., Bonaccorso, F.A., Heaney,
L., Molur, S. & Srinivasulu, C. (2008) Pteropus hypome-
lanus. In IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. H p://www.> [accessed 2 July 2014].
Fujita, M.S. & Tu le, M.D. (1991) Flying foxes (Chiroptera:
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economic importance. Conservation Biology, 5, 455–463.
Hul V. (2013) Ecology of ying fox (Pteropus species) and assess-
ment of the risk of emergence of Nipah virus in Ba ambang and
Kandal Provinces, Cambodia. MSc thesis, Royal University
of Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Kunz, T.H., Thomas, D.W., Richards, G.C., Tidemann,
C.R., Pierson, E.D. & Racey, P.A. (1996) Observational
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F.R. Cole, J.D. Nichols, R. Rudran & M.S. Foster), pp.
105–114, Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington D.C.,
ment building, which apparently a orded them some
protection from hunting (seven roosts were near a
pagoda and three were near a government building).
Only two roosts were protected by a natural barrier:
the very small uninhabited islands of Ang Trapaeng
Thmor and Koh Bong in the country’s Northwest and
Southwest respectively (Table 1, Fig. 2). This situa-
tion is similar to Thailand—another predominantly
Buddhist country—where many ying fox colonies
are near pagodas (Wacharapluesadee et al., 2010),
but di ers from the Philippines—a largely Christian
and Muslim country—where most colonies are in
forest areas (Mildenstein, 2012). Religion may there-
fore play an important role in ying fox conservation
in Cambodia, and a be er understanding of local
perceptions of bats could aid the design of more e ec-
tive conservation initiatives.
Despite the potential in uence of religious views
however, hunting of bats for bushmeat, trade and/or
medicinal use was reported at half of the 12 sites in
Table 1. In fact, one colony in Srey Santaor (Kampong
Cham Province) was recently extirpated by large-scale
hunting, despite protests from local monks (Prak Bali,
pers. comm.), and colonies at other sites could well
be declining. Even though most of the remnant ying
fox colonies in Cambodia now appear to be con ned
to sites which a ord some measure of protection,
the bats are still actively hunted while foraging or
occur in non-protected areas (Timmins, 2008; present
study). Thus, while there is a clear need for further
surveys—preferably entailing synchronized counts
employing standard methods at all known colonies to
establish seasonal variation and population trends—
our data nonetheless suggest that ying fox colonies
in mainland Cambodia are heavily threatened and by
no means nationally common.
This poses an obvious concern, not least because
ying foxes can cease to be e ective seed dispersers
long before they become rare (McConkey & Drake,
2006). Besides their ecological services to humans,
ying foxes may also play a role as reservoir of
pathogens of public health importance in Cambodia.
Evidence of Nipah virus circulation was reported
in national ying fox populations some years ago
(Reynes et al., 2005), but very li le information is
available on the risk of transmission to domestic
animals and humans in the country. Further research
on the status and ecology of Cambodian Pteropus is
therefore central to overcoming current challenges to
reliable eld identi cation and designing conserva-
tion plans and public health risk mitigation strategies.
Campaigns to raise awareness are also required in
© Centre for Biodiversity Conservation, Phnom Penh
S. Ravon et al.
Cambodian Journal of Natural History 2014 (1) 1418
MAFF—Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries (2007)
Prakas on Classi cation and List of Wildlife Species. Ministry
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function as seed dispersers long before they become rare.
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methods for monitoring. PhD thesis, University of Montana,
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virus in Lyle’s ying foxes, Cambodia. Emerging Infectious
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Struebig, M.J., Harrison, M.E., Cheyne, S.M., Limin, S.H.
(2007) Intensive hunting of large ying foxes Pteropus
vampyrus natunae in Central Kalimantan, Indonesian
Borneo. Oryx, 41, 390–393.
Timmins, R. (2008) Large mammals. In Biological Surveys of
the Mekong River between Kratie and Stung Treng Towns,
Northeast Cambodia, 2006–2007 (eds M.R. Bezuijen, R.
Timmins & Seng T.), pp. 82–89. WWF Cambodia Country
Programme, Cambodian Fisheries Administration &
Cambodian Forestry Administration, Phnom Penh,
Wacharapluesadee, S., Boongird, K., Wanghongsa, S., Ratan-
asetyuth, N., Supavonwong, P., Saengsen, D., Gongal,
G.N. & Hemachudha, T. (2010) A longitudinal study of
Nipah virus in Pteropus lylei bats in Thailand: evidence for
seasonal preference in disease transmission. Vector-borne
and Zoonotic Diseases, 10, 183–190.
... Verified by Matveev (2005) 2 P. lylei* VU Accepted by Kock (2000) and Hendrichsen et al. (2001a) based on Matveev (1999). Listed by Reynes et al. (2004) and colonies documented nationally by Ravon et al. (2014) 3 P. vampyrus* NT Not included by Kock (2000) and Hendrichsen et al. (2001a) for lack of evidence, nor by Matveev (2005) and Kingsada et al. (2011). Verified specimen collected by CBC in 2015 4 Rousettus amplexicaudatus* LC Verified by Kock (2000) 5 R. leschenaultii* LC Tentatively included by Kock (2000) and Hendrichsen et al. (2001a) based on earlier provisional record. ...
... Between 2001-2014 for instance, Cambodia experienced the greatest acceleration in forest loss in the world (Petersen et al., 2015), with forests within protected areas reportedly disappearing as fast as those outside of them (Peter and Pheap, 2015). Allied to this, a variety of human activities including escalating limestone quarrying, cave tourism and widespread hunting have contributed to declines in cave-roosting bat populations and flying fox colonies throughout the country (Ravon et al., 2014;Furey et al., 2016;Liljas, 2018;Lim et al., 2018). Since these developments collectively suggest that the prospects for conserving Cambodian bats have worsened considerably in recent decades, it would seem axiomatic that substantial efforts will be required to ensure that healthy populations of its bat species can persist in the long-term future. ...
Knowledge of the Cambodian bat fauna has grown in recent years, although much remains to be learnt. Based on field surveys undertaken throughout the country in 2014–2020 and using morphological (external, cranial and dental characters), genetic and acoustic data, we document the first records of six bat species nationally (Rhinolophus marshalli, R. siamensis, Hipposideros halophyllus, H. lekaguli, Cassistrellus yokdonensis and Eptesicus pachyomus) and the second in-country record for an additional species (Saccolaimus saccolaimus). All of these taxa were encountered in Cambodia’s understudied border regions where literature for neighbouring territories suggests future field research will likely reveal other bat species presently unknown in the country. We also comment on the distribution and conservation status of the newly documented taxa, provide a revised checklist of the 80 bat species now confirmed in Cambodia and briefly consider the prospects for future discoveries and bat conservation in the country.
... E) of the Kom Poung Kor village. Between 4000 to 7000 individuals typically roost at the site during the day (but some of which occasionally roost at nearby sites), and consume fruits obtained from trees within (or on the boundaries of) the various habitats comprising the landscape (Cappelle et al., 2020;Choden et al., 2019;Ravon et al., 2014). ...
Prévenir les risques d’épidémies est devenu un enjeu sanitaire et économique mondial, comme en témoigne l’émergence récente du SARS-COV-2. Cette Thèse vise à améliorer les connaissances sur l’utilisation de l’espace des chauves-souris frugivores (Pteropodidae) dans des environnements modifiés par l’homme. Ce travail mobilise des données de télémétrie satellitaire chez (i) la roussette de Lyle (Pteropus lylei), espèce réservoir du virus Nipah en Asie, et (ii) la chauve-souris à tête de marteau (Hypsignathus monstrosus), impliquée dans la circulation du virus Ebola en Afrique. La population étudiée de roussette de Lyle était déjà connue pour se nourrir préférentiellement dans les zones résidentielles d’un environnement fragmenté au Cambodge. La chauve-souris à tête de marteau, dont l’utilisation des habitats était méconnue, a été étudiée dans une région forestière en République du Congo – épicentre d’épidémies humaine d’Ebola en 2001–2005. De plus, des données de captures directes de chauves-souris ont été collectées dans cette dernière région. Il ressort de ces travaux que la chauve-souris à tête de marteau se nourrit préférentiellement dans les terres agricoles qui entourent les petits villages forestiers. Les individus de roussette de Lyle visitent davantage d’aires d’alimentation dans l’habitat préférentiel durant la nuit, tandis que les chauves-souris à tête de marteau y passent plus de temps sans multiplier le nombre d’aires visitées. Ces deux espèces bénéficient ainsi des ressources anthropiques à l’échelle de la population selon deux stratégies de déplacements individuels, qui sont possiblement ajustées selon le degré de fragmentation de l’environnement. Chez la chauve-souris à tête de marteau, les aires d’alimentation dans la forêt sont délaissées par les individus qui restent longtemps dans le site d’accouplement durant la nuit, ce qui suggère un rôle des terres agricoles dans l’établissement et le maintien des sites d’accouplement. Au cours de nuits successives, les deux espèces revisitent davantage une aire d’alimentation lorsqu’elles y ont passé beaucoup de temps lors de leur dernière visite. Par ailleurs, une communauté de sept espèces de chauves-souris frugivores a été identifiée dans la région étudiée en Afrique. La probabilité d’occurrence de quatre espèces était plus importante dans les villages, tandis que les autres espèces n’étaient pas influencées par l’habitat. L’ensemble de ces travaux fournit de nouvelles informations sur l’utilisation de l’espace des chauves-souris frugivores dans le cadre de leurs activités nocturnes d’alimentation et de reproduction. Ces données pourraient être intégrées dans des modélisations épidémiologiques visant à mieux comprendre les interactions entre les chauves-souris frugivores, les humains ou les animaux domestiques, ainsi que les voies de transmission de pathogènes.
... These disease-related fears are often exacerbated by media coverage of zoonotic diseases, which may lead to public misconceptions about bats and how these diseases are transmitted (Kingston 2016). fruit bat roosts are found in the gardens surrounding Buddhist temples and monestaries because these areas are protected (Kingston 2016;Ravon et al. 2014). Additionally, the hunting and consumption of bats has been well documented throughout Southeast Asia. ...
Bat populations are declining worldwide because of anthropogenic activities, including habitat destruction and hunting. Cambodia represents an important case study for studying human-bat interactions, as loss of karst caves and the destruction of forests threaten the stability of bat populations and the ecosystem services they provide. Cambodians rely on bats for tourism revenue, fertilizer from guano, and as a source of protein. However, there is a lack of information on people’s attitudes towards and relationships with cave-roosting bats. In 2019, we interviewed 60 residents around three karst outcrops (Sampeau Hill, Banan Hill, and Reichietra Hill) in Battambang Province, northwestern Cambodia, along with agricultural professionals in Battambang Town, the province’s capital. The primary objectives of the interviews were to examine people’s: (1) attitudes towards bats, (2) experiences with bats, (3) and engagement in high-risk behaviors associated with transmission of bat-related diseases (e.g. guano mining, hunting, etc.). Most respondents (70%) held positive attitudes towards bats and listed guano production, pest control, and tourism as benefits bats provide. Additionally, all informants believed bats should be protected and stated that they would feel sad if bats were extirpated. Conversely, respondents noted that many people eat bats. We followed these semi-structured interviews with five key informant interviews involved with the conservation of bats, which provided information on the history of human-bat interactions within these communities. Respondents’ positive attitudes towards bats and recognition of ecosystem services bats provide indicate they would support bat conservation policy and may be interested in developing community-based conservation programs around karst outcrops.
... E) of the Kom Poung Kor village. Between 4000 to 7000 individuals typically roost at the site during the day (but some of which occasionally roost at nearby sites), and consume fruits obtained from trees within (or on the boundaries of) the various habitats comprising the landscape [42,46,47]. ...
Full-text available
Improved understanding of the foraging ecology of bats in the face of ongoing habitat loss and modification worldwide is essential to their conservation and maintaining the substantial ecosystem services they provide. It is also fundamental to assessing potential transmission risks of zoonotic pathogens in human-wildlife interfaces. We evaluated the influence of environmental and behavioral variables on the foraging patterns of Pteropus lylei (a reservoir of Nipah virus) in a heterogeneous landscape in Cambodia. We employed an approach based on animal-movement modeling, which comprised a path-segmentation method (hidden Markov model) to identify individual foraging-behavior sequences in GPS data generated by eight P. lylei. We characterized foraging localities, foraging activity, and probability of returning to a given foraging locality over consecutive nights. Generalized linear mixed models were also applied to assess the influence of several variables including proxies for energetic costs and quality of foraging areas. Bats performed few foraging bouts (area-restricted searches) during a given night, mainly in residential areas, and the duration of these decreased during the night. The probability of a bat revisiting a given foraging area within 48 h varied according to the duration previously spent there, its distance to the roost site, and the corresponding habitat type. We interpret these fine-scale patterns in relation to global habitat quality (including food-resource quality and predictability), habitat-familiarity and experience of each individual. Our study provides evidence that heterogeneous human-made environments may promote complex patterns of foraging-behavior and short-term re-visitation in fruit bat species that occur in such landscapes. This highlights the need for similarly detailed studies to understand the processes that maintain biodiversity in these environments and assess the potential for pathogen transmission in human-wildlife interfaces.
... 16 Over a dozen P. lylei roosts are known in Cambodia and most of these are located in villages or cities, which suggests clear interfaces with humans and potential for direct or indirect contact. 17 Studies of Nipah virus circulation in bats, coupled with research on agricultural practices and risk perceptions within local Objective To better understand the potential risks of Nipah virus emergence in Cambodia by studying different components of the interface between humans and bats. Methods From 2012 to 2016, we conducted a study at two sites in Kandal and Battambang provinces where fruit bats (Pteropus lylei) roost. ...
Full-text available
Objective: To better understand the potential risks of Nipah virus emergence in Cambodia by studying different components of the interface between humans and bats. Methods: From 2012 to 2016, we conducted a study at two sites in Kandal and Battambang provinces where fruit bats (Pteropus lylei) roost. We combined research on: bat ecology (reproductive phenology, population dynamics and diet); human practices and perceptions (ethnographic research and a knowledge, attitude and practice study); and Nipah virus circulation in bat and human populations (virus monitoring in bat urine and anti-Nipah-virus antibody detection in human serum). Findings: Our results confirmed circulation of Nipah virus in fruit bats (28 of 3930 urine samples positive by polymerase chain reaction testing). We identified clear potential routes for virus transmission to humans through local practices, including fruit consumed by bats and harvested by humans when Nipah virus is circulating, and palm juice production. Nevertheless, in the serological survey of 418 potentially exposed people, none of them were seropositive to Nipah virus. Differences in agricultural practices among the regions where Nipah virus has emerged may explain the situation in Cambodia and point to actions to limit the risks of virus transmission to humans. Conclusion: Human practices are key to understanding transmission risks associated with emerging infectious diseases. Social science disciplines such as anthropology need to be integrated in health programmes targeting emerging infectious diseases. As bats are hosts of major zoonotic pathogens, such integrated studies would likely also help to reduce the risk of emergence of other bat-borne diseases.
... Incidental protection due to the proximity of Pteropus colonies to religious sites or government grounds occurs in Thailand (S. Bumrungsri, personal communication), Cambodia (Ravon et al., 2014), Vietnam (L. Q. Dang, personal communication), and the Philippines, Bali, and Myanmar (S.M.T., personal observation), but none of these sites have legal protection to deter hunting or persecution of flying foxes. ...
Full-text available
Pteropus vampyrus, the largest bat in the world, has a broad geographic range covering much of Southeast Asia. The wide distribution of P. vampyrus and its ability to cross oceanic expanses makes management of this threatened species an international concern. Pteropus vampyrus is an essential seed disperser and pollinator of rain forest trees, many of which are ecologically and economically important. Understanding population dynamics of P. vampyrus is thus critical to addressing conservation issues and global health concerns. We used phylogenetic inference and population genetic indices to infer past gene flow between populations of P. vampyrus throughout most of the species’ range. Population genetic parameters indicate low levels of nucleotide variability with high haplotype diversity across its range, implying a demographic scenario of recent population expansion after a bottleneck. Subspecies were not found to be monophyletic from the genetic data, which may reflect some level of genetic variation on even shallower time scales. The low level of population genetic structure throughout the species range is not necessarily surprising given its high vagility and seasonal migratory behavior. However, it cannot be entirely excluded that these results may reflect historical connectivity or lineage sorting issues rather than more recent persistent gene flow. These findings highlight the need for international cooperation and monitoring to ensure persistence of populations and to create a species management plan that can protect the species throughout its range. Increased genetic sampling is needed to ascertain P. vampyrus’ commonly used dispersal routes and to assess the possibility of asymmetric gene flow among populations.
... In Buddhist countries (Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam), most roost sites of large fruit bats are found in the gardens around temples and monasteries because of the protection the monks provide (e.g. Ravon et al. 2014;T. Mildenstein unpublished data). ...
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Bat hunting for consumption as bushmeat and medicine is widespread and affects at least 167 species of bats (or c. 13 % of the world’s bat species), in Africa, Asia, across the islands of Oceania, and to a lesser extent in Central and South America. Hunting is particularly prevalent among the large-bodied fruit bats of the Old World tropics, where half (50 %, 92/183) the extant species in the family Pteropodidae are hunted. Pteropodids that are hunted are six times more likely to be Red Listed as threatened: 66 % of species in IUCN threatened categories (CR, EN, VU, NT), compared to 11 % of species in the ‘Least Concern’ (LC) category. However, there still appears to be an information gap at the international level. One third of the hunted species on the Red List are not considered threatened by that hunting, and nearly a quarter of the bat species included in this review are not listed as hunted in IUCN Red List species accounts. This review has resulted in a comprehensive list of hunted bats that doubles the number of species known from either the IUCN Red List species accounts or a questionnaire circulated in 2004. More research is needed on the impacts of unregulated hunting, as well as on the sustainability of regulated hunting programs. In the absence of population size and growth data, legislators and managers should be precautionary in their attitude towards hunting. Roost site protection should be a priority as it is both logistically simpler than patrolling bat foraging grounds and reduces the comparatively larger scale mortality and stress that hunting at the roost can cause. Education and awareness campaigns within local communities should demonstrate how bats are a limited resource and emphasize characteristics (nocturnal, slow reproducing and colonial) that make them particularly vulnerable to hunting pressure .
... © Centre for Biodiversity Conservation, Phnom Penh Cambodian Journal of Natural History 2014 (1)[14][15][16][17][18] ...
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Nipah virus (NiV) is a zoonotic virus that can pose a serious threat to human and livestock health. Old-world fruit bats (Pteropus spp.) are the natural reservoir hosts for NiV, and Pteropus lylei, Lyle's flying fox, is an important host of NiV in mainland Southeast Asia. NiV can be transmitted from bats to humans directly via bat-contaminated foods (i.e., date palm sap or fruit) or indirectly via livestock or other intermediate animal hosts. Here we construct risk maps for NiV spillover and transmission by combining ecological niche models for the P. lylei bat reservoir with other spatial data related to direct or indirect NiV transmission (livestock density, foodborne sources including fruit production, and human population). We predict the current and future (2050 and 2070) distribution of P. lylei across Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Our best-fit model predicted that central and western regions of Thailand and small areas in Cambodia are currently the most suitable habitats for P. lylei. However, due to climate change, the species range is predicted to expand to include lower northern, northeastern, eastern, and upper southern Thailand and almost all of Cambodia and lower southern Vietnam. This expansion will create additional risk areas for human infection from P. lylei in Thailand. Our combined predictive risk maps showed that central Thailand, inhabited by 2.3 million people, is considered highly suitable for the zoonotic transmission of NiV from P. lylei. These current and future NiV transmission risk maps can be used to prioritize sites for active virus surveillance and developing awareness and prevention programs to reduce the risk of NiV spillover and spread in Thailand.
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A new species of Myotis is described from Cambodia. The species is characterized by its fleshy, bicoloured thumb, large foot sole, full dentition, relatively short rostrum, and high frontal part of the skull. The species is currently only known from the city of Phnom Penh.
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Pteropus vampyrus natunae, the Bornean subspecies of the large flying fox, has important roles in pollination but unsustainable hunting has been reported in Malaysian states. We provide the first description of hunting techniques and intensity in Indonesian Borneo. In forests around Palangka Raya this species is captured in canopy-level nets to support trade in the provincial capital. We estimate that in 2003 4,500 individuals were extracted from a single location in 30 days, which, together with trends reported in interviews with hunters and traders, suggests that hunting in this region is intensive and probably causing severe population declines. Further surveys are needed throughout Kalimantan to determine if this trend is occurring around other cities and whether intervention is needed to safeguard viable populations.
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After 12 serial Nipah virus outbreaks in humans since 1998, it has been noted that all except the initial event in Malaysia occurred during the first 5 months of the year. Increasingly higher morbidity and mortality have been observed in subsequent outbreaks in India and Bangladesh. This may have been related to different virus strains and transmission capability from bat to human without the need for an amplifying host and direct human-to-human transmission. A survey of virus strains in Pteropus lylei and seasonal preference for spillover of these viruses was completed in seven provinces of Central Thailand between May 2005 and June 2007. Nipah virus RNA sequences, which belonged to those of the Malaysian and Bangladesh strains, were detected in the urine of these bats, with the Bangladesh strain being dominant. Highest recovery of Nipah virus RNA was observed in May. Of two provincial sites where monthly surveys were done, the Bangladesh strain was almost exclusively detected during April to June. The Malaysian strain was found dispersed during December to June. Although direct contact during breeding (in December to April) was believed to be an important transmission factor, our results may not entirely support the role of breeding activities in spillage of virus. Greater virus shedding over extended periods in the case of the Malaysian strain and the highest peak of virus detection in May in the case of the Bangladesh strain when offspring started to separate may suggest that there may be responsible mechanisms other than direct contact during breeding in the same roost. Knowledge of seasonal preferences of Nipah virus shedding in P. lylei will help us to better understand the dynamics of Nipah virus transmission and have implications for disease management.
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We conducted a survey in Cambodia in 2000 on henipavirus infection among several bat species, including flying foxes, and persons exposed to these animals. Among 1,072 bat serum samples tested by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, antibodies reactive to Nipah virus (NiV) antigen were detected only in Pteropus lylei species; Cynopterus sphinx, Hipposideros larvatus, Scotophilus kuhlii, Chaerephon plicata, Taphozous melanopogon, and T. theobaldi species were negative. Seroneutralization applied on a subset of 156 serum samples confirmed these results. None of the 8 human serum samples was NiV seropositive with the seroneutralization test. One virus isolate exhibiting cytopathic effect with syncytia was obtained from 769 urine samples collected at roosts of P. lylei specimens. Partial molecular characterization of this isolate demonstrated that it was closely related to NiV. These results strengthen the hypothesis that flying foxes could be the natural host of NiV. Surveillance of human cases should be implemented.
Flying foxes are animals of extraordinary ecological and economic importance throughout forests of the Old World tropics Nearly 200 species play an essential role as forest pollinators and seed dispersers, yet they are frequently misunderstood intensely persecuted and exceptionally vulnerable to extinction Their role in the propagation of numerous important plants remains virtually uninvestigated. However, our review of already available literature demonstrates that at least 289 plant species rely to vatying degrees on large populations of flying foxes for propagation. These plants, in addition to their many ecological contributing produce some 448 economically valuable products. The fact that flying foxes are increasingly threaten and that few baseline data exist on population trends is cause for concern Many appear to be in severe decline, and several species are already extinct. We present initial observations on flying fox importance and survival threats in hopes of highlighting research and conservation needs.
The dependency of highly endemic island floras on few potential pollinators in depauperate island faunas suggests that pollinators and seed dispersers may be crucial in the preservation of biodiversity in isolated oceanic islands. We discuss the hypothesis that flying foxes are “strong interactors” in South Pacific islands where they serve as the principal pollinators and seed dispersers, This suggests that the ongoing decline and ultimate extinction of flying fox species on Pacific islands may lead to a cascade of linked plant extinctions. We propose an empirical test of this hypothesis: comparisons of plant reproductive success in Guam, which has virtually lost its flying fox populations, and Samoa, where significant populations remain. Resumen: La dependencia de floras isleñas altamente endemicas en algunos polinizadores potenciales en faunas islenas depauperizadas sugiere que los polinizadores y los dispersadores de semillas pueden ser cruciales en la conservacion de la diversidad biologica en islas oceanicas aisladas. Discutimos la hipotesis de que los murcielagos fnugiwros (Pteropus sp.) son fuertes interactores en las islas del Pacifico sur, en donde funcionan como los principales agentes de polinizacion y de disperseón de semillas Esto sugiere que la continua disminucion y futura extinción de las especies de murciélagos frugivoros podrian llevara una extinción de plantas en cadena. Hemos propuesto una prueba empirica de esta hipótesis, mediante la comparación del éxito reproductivo de lasplantas en Guam, que prácticamente ha perdido sus poblaciones de murciélagos frugiwros, con el de Samoa, donde persisten poblaciones impmtantes.
Rare species play limited ecological roles, but particular behavioral traits may predispose species to become functionally extinct before becoming rare. Flying foxes (Pteropodid fruit bats) are important dispersers of large seeds, but their effectiveness is hypothesized to depend on high population density that induces aggressive interactions. In a Pacific archipelago, we quantified the proportion of seeds that flying foxes dispersed beyond the fruiting canopy, across a range of sites that differed in flying fox abundance. We found the relationship between ecological function (seed dispersal) and flying fox abundance was nonlinear and consistent with the hypothesis. For most trees in sites below a threshold abundance of flying foxes, flying foxes dispersed < 1% of the seeds they handled. Above the threshold, dispersal away from trees increased to 58% as animal abundance approximately doubled. Hence, flying foxes may cease to be effective seed dispersers long before becoming rare. As many species' populations decline worldwide, identifying those with threshold relationships is an important precursor to preservation of ecologically effective densities.
Conservation of endangered fl ying foxes in the Philippines: eff ects of anthropogenic disturbance and methods for monitoring
  • T L Mildenstein
Mildenstein, T.L. (2012) Conservation of endangered fl ying foxes in the Philippines: eff ects of anthropogenic disturbance and methods for monitoring. PhD thesis, University of Montana, USA.