In Queensland we are pretty used to hearing the chattering of flying foxes by night, seeing them swoop underneath street lights and burst from dark trees as we walk too close. Today I thought I would cover a different species of flying fox facing extinction in the Philippines.
Acerodon jubatus is endemic to the forests of the Philippines. The giant golden-crowned flying fox is immediately recognisable by its massive wingspan (1.5-1.7m / 4'11"-5'7"!!) and the bright golden fur on top of their heads, contrasting the black fur of the rest of their bodies.
Like other flying foxes, Acerodon jubatus lives almost entirely off of fruits. The giant golden-crowned flying fox enjoys figs particularly, but is known to eat many types of fruit as well as cultivated varieties (though this is rare). In the Philippines they are known as "Silent Planters" because they help spread many varieties of fruit seeds in their droppings. This is an example of how important they are to local ecology and how their disappearance could disrupt rainforest cycles.
Acerodon jubatus is largely endangered because of poaching and habitat destruction, much of which is done in the name of agriculture. Although conservation programs are under way, it is very difficult to conserve this species as so little is known about them. However, there are captive breeding programs being instituted and lands in Subic Bay (57 km2) being protected in order to allow this species to recover. The organisations involved include: Bat Conservation International, the Wildlife Conservation Society, WWF, and the Lubee Foundation.