Volume 1
Issue 1

The World Conservation Strategy was formulated by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) in cooperation with the U.N. Environmental Program (UNEP) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF), FAO and UNESCO. The World Conservation Strategy was launched in 1980 in 30 countries, and now many countries are adopting conservation strategies formulated within the guidelines suggested.

Malaysia’s 13 states are each devising a strategy, and 4 states have already published their plans. Of particular relevance to bats is the fact that one rain forest tree, the Durian”. . . is singled out as being especially valuable because, besides producing highly prized fruit, it yields useful timber and has magnificent landscape value.” (World Conservation Strategy in action, IUCN Bulletin sup plement December 1983). The Durian is a native forest tree which provides a cash crop valued at $112 million a year in southeast Asia. It is pollinated by the Cave-dwelling Nectar-eating Bat (Eonycteris spelaea).

Dr. Norman Myers, present holder of WWF’s gold medal, their highest award, writing in the January 1984 issue of “BBC Wildlife” magazine emphasizes the importance of bats to the pollination and seed dispersal of many hundreds of tropical trees and shrubs. He refers to bats as “keystone species” in maintaining tropical forests. He also notes that elimination of a single species “could trigger a cascade of linked executions, and their food webs could become unraveled, with a shatter effect throughout their ecosystems.”

In general, we still understand little of the interdependency of animals and plants in the highly complex diversity of tropical forests. It is likely many more plants are bat-dependent than are currently known. Unfortunately, some of the world’s largest tropical ecosystem research projects continue to ignore the crucial role of bats in rain forests. Hopefully, this will soon change!