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Bats as bushmeat in Madagascar

Author(s): Richard K. B. Jenkins | Paul A. Racey

Journal: Madagascar Conservation & Development
ISSN 1662-2510

Volume: 3;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 22;
Date: 2008;
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Keywords: Madagascar | bats | bushmeat | Eidolon | Hipposideros | hunting | Pteropus | Rousettus | roost

Bats are eaten by people throughout Madagascar and althoughthe larger species like Pteropus rufus, Eidolon dupreanum,Rousettus madagascariensis and Hipposideros commersoni arepreferred, small insectivorous bats are also eaten. The nationalhunting season for bats is widely ignored and both unsuitablehunting practices and high offtake represent a serious threatto bat populations in some areas. Bat bushmeat may be animportant source of protein for Malagasy people during periodsof food shortage but in general there are few data on the socioeconomic and cultural importance of bats. Fruit bats producea single offspring per year and are therefore susceptible toover - hunting. Nevertheless, large roosts offer the possibility ofcommunity managed harvests to secure the colony and providea source of meat but further research is needed before this canbe considered. Roost sites also present the best focus for conservation and greater effort is needed to control hunting usingexisting legislation and flexible community - based solutions thatare sensitive to the local context. The threat of pathogen transferfrom bats to people is of growing concern as more bat speciesare identified as vectors of emergent viral diseases.
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