Pteropus hypomelanus
(c) Sheema Abdul Aziz

Sheema Abdul Aziz (ECOTROP), PhD student of Campus France at MNHN in France, and University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus (UNMC) in Malaysia, published a review about "The Conflict Between Pteropodid Bats and Fruit Growers: Species, Legislation and Mitigation" in the Open-Access book Bats in the Anthropocene: Conservation of Bats in a Changing World.


Pteropodid bats damage a wide range of fruit crops, exacerbated by continuing loss of their natural food as forests are cleared. In some countries where such damage occurs, bats are not legally protected. In others, as a result of pressure from fruit growers, legal protection is either not implemented or overridden by legislation specifically allowing the killing of bats. Lethal control is generally ineffective and often carried out with shotguns making it an animal welfare issue, as many more animals are injured or orphaned than are killed. Here, we review the literature and current state of the conflict between fruit growers and pteropodids and describe a wide range of potential mitigation techniques. We compile an extensive list of bats and the fruit crops on which they feed where this has resulted in conflicts, or could lead to conflict, with fruit growers. We also discuss the legal status of bats in some countries where such conflicts occur. We found the most effective means of preventing bat damage to crops is the use of fixed nets (that generally prevent entanglement) covering a whole orchard. Netting individual trees, or fruit panicles, using small net bags, is also effective. Management methods that assist netting include pruning to maintain low stature of trees. These exclusion techniques are the best management options considering both conservation and public health issues. Although lights, sonic and ultrasonic noises, noxious smells and tastes have been used to deter bats from eating fruit, there have been no large-scale systematic trials of their effectiveness. Nevertheless, broadcasting the sound of discharging shotguns followed by the sound of wounded bats has proved effective in Australia. The use of decoy fruit trees is the least investigated method of mitigation and requires detailed knowledge of the natural diet of the bat species involved. The few studies of dietary preferences undertaken to date suggest that bats prefer non-commercial fruit when it is available, and we highlight this as an area for future research.