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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless otherwise credited.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2020

 
 
     
   
   

 

   
   
 
Sunda Flying Fox
   
   

Fig 1


Fig 2


Fig 3


Fig 4



 

 

 

 

Order : CHIROPTERA
Family : Pteropodidae
Species : Acerodon mackloti

Forearm Length : up to 20 cm
Weight : up to 565 gms

The Sunda Flying Fox is one of 5 species in the genus Acerodon, which are all endemic to either the Philippines or Indonesia. Some species are under threat due to habitat loss or over-hunting.

Externally, Acerodon bats look similar to the Pteropus genus, of which there are around 60 species globally: the difference between these groups lies in cranial dimensions and dentition.

The Sunda Flying Fox is the least threatened species of Acerodon. It tends to roost in coastal areas, for example amongst fig trees. Figs also form part of their diet.

Illustrated here are some images of a huge roost of flying fox at Pulau Koaba, which lies just 3 km off the coast of Flores, and is adjacent to Rinca Island, the second largest island in Komodo National Park.

Pulau Koaba, which is also known as Kalong Island (Fruit Bat Island), is a low-lying circular island of 500 metres diameter: it comprises a core of taller trees surrounded by dense mangrove. At dusk, the sight of thousands of bats leaving their roost and heading for their feeding grounds is a magnificent spectacle.

Figure 1 shows a bat from this roost: based on the presence of an orange nape, black head and medium to dark brown underside this is tentatively identified as a male Sunda Flying Fox. Females have much paler fur.

The Sunda Flying Fox is endemic to Indonesia, and appears to be restricted to the Lesser Sunda Islands (Nusa Tenggara) including, from west to east, the islands of Lombok, Sumbawa, Sumba, Flores, Timor and Alor.


Fig 1 : This specimen is tentatively a male Sunda Flying Fox, with orange-brown collar on the neck. 

Figs 2 and 3 : At dusk thousands of flying Fox stream from this colony located deep inside the mangrove forest of Pulau Koaba.

Fig 4 : The wingspan of this species can sometimes exceed one metre.

All images from Pulau Koaba, near Rinca Island, Komodo National Park, Indonesia.


References :

Kunz, T. and Pierson, E. 1994. Walker's Bats of the World. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press

Mickleburgh, S. P., Hutson, A. M., & Racey, P. A., 1992. Old World Fruit Bats : An Action Plan for their Conservation. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN.

Links : Mongabay: Photo essay: the flying fox show


Thanks to Tammy Mildenstein for her helpful comments.