Stop the killing: save the Mauritius flying fox!

Flying fox on Mauritius Flying foxes eat fruit, and Mauritian orchard owners want them dead. (© Jacques de Speville)

Following culls in 2015 and 2016, Mauritius has once again declared open season on flying foxes. Orchard owners consider the giant fruit bats to be a pest, and the government has called for 13,000 to be killed. The cull could lead to the extinction of the species. Please tell the Mauritian government to stop the killing NOW.

Call to action

To: President Ameenah Gurib and the government of Prime Minister Anerood Jugnauth

Killing thousands of flying foxes and risking their extinction to protect the profits of orchard operators is cruel and irresponsible. Stop the cull NOW!

Read letter

Conservationists are struggling to stop the killing: “The slaughter is completely unjustified,” says Vikash Tatayah of the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation.

The government claims that throngs of flying foxes descend on mango and lychee orchards. It therefore wants the population culled. A study put the number of flying foxes (Pteropus niger) on the island at less than 100,000.

In 2015, the government had initiated a “controlled cull” of 20,000 flying foxes – during which no less than 30,398 were confirmed killed. The following year, another 7,380 were killed. This year, the cull will target 13,000 flying foxes.

According to the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the culls have led the Mauritius flying fox to be reclassified from 'vulnerable' to 'endangered' on the IUCN Red List. All it would take is a cyclone or an extended drought to wipe them out.

A study by the University of Bristol in the UK debunked the orchard owners’ complaints: evidently the flying foxes were responsible for only around 11 percent of the damage to fruit crops. Orchard mismanagement had a far greater impact. Placing nets around the trees could protect them against flying foxes and birds.

Proponents of the cull ignore the fact that the Mauritius flying fox – the island’s largest endemic mammal with a wingspan of 80 cm – is a vital pollinator and seed disperser. A mass killing at this time of year would hit pregnant and nursing females hard, leaving orphaned juveniles no chance of survival.

Please sign our petition to the Mauritian government today!

Back­ground

For more information, please visit:

The impact of the Mauritius Fruit Bat (Pteropus niger) on commercial fruit farms and possible mitigation measures  

Going to Bat for an Endangered Species

This video (2:45) is a brief summary of the issue.

Letter

To: President Ameenah Gurib and the government of Prime Minister Anerood Jugnauth

Madame President, Mr. Prime Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Your government is going forward with a “controlled cull” of thousands of flying foxes in response to assertions by orchard owners that the creatures are decimating their crops.

Environmentalists and scientists have spoken out against the plan in no uncertain terms:

The population of flying foxes is likely to be considerably lower than the frequently-cited 65,000 individuals. Scientists estimate the number to be no more than 50,000. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the killing could drive the species to the brink of extinction. Currently listed as vulnerable, the flying foxes could soon be critically endangered.

The complaint that the mammals are responsible for decimating fruit crops has been refuted. The flying foxes’ impact has been documented at a mere 11 percent of the total losses. A mass killing will not help fruit growers and does not make economic sense.

Environmental concerns and the sheer cruelty of the plan weigh heavily: the killing would ignore the vital role of the flying foxes in pollination and seed dispersal. It would take place at a time when females are pregnant or nursing their offspring. A significant part of the next generation would thus be wiped out.

Furthermore, the people of Mauritius rejects the killing of flying foxes. A survey determined that around 90 percent harbored “neutral to very positive feelings” toward the animals.

Please take the warnings of scientists seriously and cancel the plan. Do not risk the extinction of a species that exists only in your country.

The killing would seriously damage the reputation of Mauritius throughout the world.

Sincerely,

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