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

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14
© 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 (
Pteropus
spp.) colonies in
Cambodia
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- ora.org
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
15
© 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.
16
© 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
Methods1
Population
Estimate2
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
(Kratie)
12.507 N,
105.993 E.
26 Aug 2013 Pagoda. Two roost trees
on site perimeter.
DC 200
6 Koh Chreng Island *
(Kratie)
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 *
(Kandal)
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 *
(Kandal)
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
(Sihanoukville)
10.759 N,
103.265 E.
1 Feb 2014 Three roost trees in
forest on small private
island.
DC 200
17
© 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.
facebook.com/CFFCPH) 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.
Acknowledgements
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.
References
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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
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but di ers from the Philippines—a largely Christian
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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.
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medicinal use was reported at half of the 12 sites in
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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
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© Centre for Biodiversity Conservation, Phnom Penh
S. Ravon et al.
Cambodian Journal of Natural History 2014 (1) 1418
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... 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. ...
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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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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.