Flying foxes provide critical ecosystem services by pollinating and disseminating diverse plant species. Yet, they face intensifying threats, particularly on islands. The situation is epitomized by the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius. In December 2016, the Mauritian government implemented the second mass cull of a threatened, endemic flying fox species, Pteropus niger, in 2 years. Government figures suggest that at least 45% of the overall P. niger population of just over 90,000 individuals were culled during the two campaigns; illegal killing and incidental mortality of pups during the culls raise likely losses to over 50%. The dire situation of island flying foxes worldwide calls for effective, science-based conservation strategies to prevent further loss of biodiversity and function.