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Coexistence and Conflict between the Island Flying fox (Pteropus hypomelanus) and Humans on Tioman Island, Peninsular Malaysia

Aziz, Sheema Abdul, Clements, Gopalasamy Reuben, Giam, Xingli, Forget, Pierre-Michel, Campos-Arceiz, Ahimsa
Human ecology 2017 v.45 no.3 pp. 377-389
Pteropus, attitudes and opinions, ecosystem services, extinction, flight, fruit trees, humans, income, landscapes, males, people, pests, questionnaires, risk, surveys, synanthropes, wildlife, Malaysia
As tropical landscapes become increasingly human-dominated, conflicts between people and wildlife threaten ecological processes. Old World fruit bats such as flying foxes are especially susceptible to extinction risk because there is low interest in their conservation, particularly when they are considered pests. In order to arrest fruit bat declines, there is an urgent need to understand human-bat conflict and its implications. On a tropical island in Peninsular Malaysia, we conducted a questionnaire survey to investigate coexistence between people and the island flying fox (Pteropus hypomelanus). Among 119 respondents, knowledge of ecosystem services provided by flying foxes was extremely low. Most respondents held negative attitudes towards the bats, and older male locals were more likely to support killing them. This was also true for older owners of fruit trees who derived income from selling fruit, and experienced flying fox raids. Our results can be used to design appropriate interventions to support conservation efforts, and has important implications for managing conflicts between humans and synanthropic wildlife.