The endangered Mauritius fruit bat is once again the centre of a controversial cull at the hands of its government, much to the alarm of wildlife conservation organisations. Under pressure from both farmers and the public, the government of the Indian Ocean island recently announced a plan to cull 10% of its 80,000 or so fruit bats to protect the nation’s fruit industry.
Bat culling in Mauritius is fraught with deep divisions and entrenched interests. No one disputes that the fruit bat – the clue is in its name – can cause damage to lychee and mango harvests in orchards and private gardens. That’s why pressure from fruit farmers and the general public led the government to order culls of tens of thousands of bats – at least a third of the species’ population – in 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019. Many conservationists feel that these culls contravene the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, which Mauritius was the very first nation to sign and ratify in 1992.
This has led to perpetual arguments and increasing divisions between farmers, agricultural companies, fruit traders, conservationists academics, government agencies, media and the public. MORE
Header image: Precious endangered species or annoying pest…or both? Credit: Jacques de Speville, Author provided.