Status and distribution of some rare and endemic bat species in the Nicobar Islands, India

Bandana Aul

Zoogeographical isolation on the Nicobar Islands of India has led to very high degree of endemicity that includes several species of bats (Das, 1999 a; Andrews & Sankaran, 2002). The mammalian fauna of the Nicobar Islands is largely comprised of a rich assemblage of rodents and bats, besides the only large species, the Nicobar wild pig. Very little is known about the bat fauna of the Nicobar Islands and only 12 species have so far been identified (Miller, 1902; Hill, 1967; Saha, 1980; Das, 1999 b; Bates & Harrision, 1997). Most of the species are poorly known and there is no information on their current status, ecology, behaviour and distribution. IUCN and the Red Data Book classified most of these as not assessed and vulnerable. The project seeks to raise the profile of bat conservation in the Nicobars, focusing on a high profile endemic species, the Nicobar Flying Fox (Pteropus faunulus). The survey will also include all other mega- and microbats, with the aim of identifying priority species and geographical areas for conservation. Primary methods will include extensive surveys, mist netting and harp trapping. In addition, simple bat detectors will be used to maximize data collection and help minimize the invasive nature of the survey, with secondary sources from local inhabitants. The project will provide species lists, data on habit use, mainly information on and maps of roosts both temporary and permanent of trees and caves, and a management plan will be formulated for the conservation of bats and the production of a field guide on bats of the islands.

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