December 8, 2013 | 4
Species name: Fijian monkey-faced bat (Mirimiri acrodonta), the only member of its genus and the only mammal endemic to the Republic of Fiji. Also known as the Fiji flying fox.
Description: One of the larger megabats in the region, this orange-eyed bat is covered in fairly thick hair and weighs up to 350 grams. It was recognized as its own genus in 2005.
Where found: A single 100-square-kilometer rainforest region on a single mountain on Tavenui, one of Fiji’s 332 islands. The bat has only been found at elevations above 1,000 meters.
IUCN Red List status: Critically endangered due to its small population size (probably fewer than 1,000 bats) and single location.
Major threat: With such a limited range, the potential for more habitat loss is currently the main threat to this species. Additional research is required to fully understand any additional threats to this species.
Notable conservation programs & research: The Austrup Foundation and Nature Fiji have collaborated on conserving all of Fiji’s bats, and Conservation International has helped to fund and develop a species conservation plan (pdf) in 2011. Priority actions determined by the plan include securing the Taveuni Forest Reserve as a new national park and developing a better understanding of the species’ ecology. It may take a while to come up with that information: A 2012 field survey (pdf) failed to locate any of the bats. Research is ongoing, however: the Australia & Pacific Science Foundation has funded a three-year study of Fiji’s bats, including M. acrodonta.
Photo by William N. Beckon via Wikipedia, used under Creative Commons license