Coexistence and Conflict between the Island Flying fox (Pteropus hypomelanus) and Humans on Tioman Island, Peninsular Malaysia
Hunting and loss of natural habitats increasingly threaten tropical biodiversity and ecosystems, particularly in Southeast Asia. Flying foxes often persist in anthropogenic areas where other wildlife has vanished, and where they play a significant ecological role in vegetation regeneration in disturbed habitats. Detailed knowledge on the foraging behavior of flying foxes is crucial for understanding how they survive in degraded habitats and for the management of human-wildlife conflicts. Thailand still harbors large colonies (several thousand individuals) of Lyle’s flying fox (Pteropus lylei), a species ranked as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, at temples situated in agricultural landscapes. We used high-resolution global positioning system (GPS) loggers to study the movement and foraging behavior of this species at 2 temples in central Thailand during 2 seasons. We analyzed GPS and acceleration data of 19 tagged individuals, and assessed habitat use and diet. Foraging individuals commuted between day roosts and foraging areas each night, followed by small-scale movements in foraging areas, and showed high site fidelity during the study period. Maximum linear distances between day roosts and foraging areas varied greatly between individuals (2.2–23.6 km) but were similar between seasons. Tracked bats mostly foraged in farmland, plantations, and gardens, yet our data indicate that small mangrove remnants constitute important habitat components for Lyle’s flying fox.We recorded a highly diverse diet of 34 food plant species, comprised of exotic crops and native plants as available. Our results suggest that conservation and landscape managers should preserve remaining native trees and natural vegetation in the study area as resources for Lyle’s flying fox, at the same time reducing potential for conflicts between bats and humans on crops. They can further be used for public information campaigns integrating the potential of Lyle’s flying fox as dispersers of useful plants and the human health risks through zoonotic diseases associated with hunting and consumption of this species. © 2015 The Wildlife Society.