A Critically Endangered bat – the Rodrigues flying fox, found only on a single island some 1,500 miles off the coast of southern Africa – is being highlighted as one of the Alliance for Zero Extinctions’ Seven Wonders of Endangered Species. These seven species were chosen by more than 100,000 worldwide votes cast on social media.
|Rodrigues flying fox (Pteropus rodricensis) Photo © Michael Durham/Minden Pictures, BCI
These seven selected animals are meant to call attention to a total of 587 critical sites, each identified by AZE as the single remaining home of one or more endangered species.
“Each of these phenomenal sites holds a unique wonder of nature – be it a charismatic bird, frog, turtle, or mammal – that is worth protecting in perpetuity, said AZE Chairman Mike Parr of the American Bird Conservancy. “While today we are announcing 7 Wonders, AZE sites are really 587 wonders around the world.”
The Alliance is a network of 88 prominent conservation groups, including Bat Conservation International, from 35 countries that is working to protect those unique AZE sites.
The Rodrigues flying fox is found only within a range of less than 50 square miles on Rodrigues Island, part of the Republic of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. Its dwindling population is threatened especially by loss of habitat to deforestation, which also increases the often-deadly impact of tropical cyclones on these fruit-eating bats. A promising captive-breeding program is under way with small populations at zoos around the world.
“The Rodrigues flying fox is beautifully adapted to the dry woodlands of its small Indian Ocean island,” said BCI Executive Director Andrew Walker. “Unfortunately, it’s not alone in its troubles: island bats around the world face similar, severe threats.
“AZE’s 7 Wonders is an important reminder of all that we lose when species go extinct,” he said.
The other six Wonders of Endangered Species are the long-whiskered owlet of Abra Patricia, Peru; the golden poison frog of Río Saija, Colombia; the Roti Island snake-necked turtle of Roti Island, Indonesia; the Siberian crane of Poyang Hu, China; the Lear’s macaw of Raso da Catarina, Brazil; and the Juan Fernández firecrown of Isla Robinson Crusoe, Chile.