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Fiji Time: 5:29 PM on Friday 25 April

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Fijian flying foxes at risk

Luke Rawalai
Saturday, November 10, 2012

THE Macuata Provincial Office is working closely with the Nature Fiji Mareqeti Viti in monitoring the native but very threatened Fijian free tailed bats (Chaerephon bregullae) which are found in Nakanacagi, Macuata.

NFMV officer Kelera Macedru said Nakanacagi Village in Macuata was globally recognised as it represented the only cave roosting site for the Fijian free tailed bat.

Ms Macedru said the bat cave structure that ran under a logging access road was threatened by diggers that were upgrading the road and logging trucks that used the road while laden with heavy logs.

"The cave has been cracking in places and there are accesses inside the cave that have crumbled in because of pressure from heavy machineries that access the road on top of the cave," she said.

"Continuous pressure might see the whole cave structure crumble and the complete destruction of the habitat of one of our endangered species," she said.

She said Vanuatu Island was also known to have the same species but Fiji provided the most updated data, therefore it was recognised as the global representative of the Fijian free tailed bat.

"The Nakanacagi bats are insectivorous as they feed on insects, one of the significant roles they play in controlling the insect population of an area which is a great advantage for farmers, as they keep insects from destroying agricultural produce.

"An adult-sized Fijian free tailed bat is about 3 inches long and the bats are part of the culture, tradition and history of the people in Nakanacagi as they have certain activities that are associated with bats, locally known as beka beka," she said.

Ms Macedru said Fiji had six species of bats, three of which were cave roosting bats, while the other three roosted in trees.

"These are the Pacific flying fox (Pteropus tonganus), Samoan flying fox (Pteropus samoensis), the Fijian flying fox (Mirimiri acrodonta) — while the cave roosting bats are Pacific sheath-tail bats (Emballonura semicaudata), Fijian free tailed bat (Chaerephon bregullae) and the Fijian blossom bat Notopteris macdonaldi," said Ms Macedru.

Meanwhile, assistant roko tui Macuata Aisake Nadumu said his office was supporting the monitoring process and was working with the NFMV officers in monitoring the bats.