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Fiji Time: 5:06 AM on Thursday 24 April

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Site under watch

Luke Rawalai
Saturday, November 10, 2012

THE Nature Fiji (Mareqeti Viti) is carrying out an inventory of the Fijian free-tailed bats (Chaerephon bregullae) in Nakanacagi Village, Macuata to keep record of the number of species in the area.

The species can only be found in Nakanacagi.

With the assistance of Annette Scanlon and Dr Topa Petit of the University of South Australia, NFMV has been providing information to the people of Nakanacagi Village about the significant bat population in their area.

NFMV officer Kelera Macedru said regular monitoring of the bats had been undertaken since 2009, where disturbances and threats to the cave site were documented, as well as changes in the population at different times of the year.

"Information on bat research in Fiji is very minimum with the last survey done on Fiji's six bat species seven years ago in 2005 by the University of the South Pacific," said Ms Macedru.

"NFMV is trying to record as much information on bats as possible, as four of Fiji's six species of bats are now highly threatened. Work currently done by NFMV is a follow-up inventory of bat cave roosts in Fiji."

This is followed up by the monitoring of the bat population that is known to be present in the cave roosting sites.

"A particular species of bats that is the Pacific sheath-tail bat (Emballonura semicaudata) is a cave roosting bat which was known to occur in many of the caves in Viti levu in 1985, but a follow-up survey in the year 2005 showed the absence of these bats in the known cave roosting sites.

"At this time the Pacific sheath-tail bat is thought to have been extirpated from Viti Levu," she said.

She said bats were known to be faithful to their cave roosts. "The cave disturbance may have caused the bats to leave their roosts, but because they have no other site to roost we may lose the entire species population."