Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Giant Golden-crowned Flying Fox

Acerodon jubatus
The Giant Golden-crowned Flying Fox (also known as the Golden-capped Fruit Bat) is one of the largest bat species in the entire world... but it is also one of the most threatened. These monstrous bats are found only on a handful of islands in the Philippines, and they are in grave danger due to poaching and deforestation.

Giant Golden-crowned Flying Foxes (that is a mouthful!) are named for a patch of golden colored hair found on the tops of their heads. The rest of the body ranges in color from brown to black. The "Giant" title comes from their incredible size-- they can have wingspans that measure over 5 ft! Don't worry about that huge size though, these bats are gentle giants. Their favorite food is Fig, and they also eat several other fruit and plant types. They even help to plant the forests since they deposit seeds with their droppings.

These Bats can be found exclusively on nine different Philippines islands, though that number could drop to even fewer locations-- they have already gone extinct on several smaller islands. They live at low elevations, in areas that are uninhabited by humans. When they were more abundant, the Golden-crowned Flying Foxes could be found in combined colonies with the Large Flying Foxes, and these groups could number near 100,000. At present, the largest colonies measure around 5,000.

The species is on the decline, but a number of different programs have been put into place to keep it going. They live in a few protected areas, are under study, and a captive breeding program is underway. However, enforcement in some of the protected areas is very light, allowing poaching to continue.

IUCN Status : Endangered
Location : Philippines
Size : Wingspan up to 5.5ft (1.7m), Weight up to 2.6lbs (1.3kg)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Mammalia -- Order : Chiroptera
Family : Pteropodidae -- Genus : Acerodon -- Species : A. jubatus

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