The Mauritian flying fox is threatened by ongoing habitat loss in the form of deforestation (1) (3). Only an estimated five percent of the original vegetation of Mauritius still survives (9), and over half the plants the Mauritian flying fox now feeds on are introduced species (3). The Mauritian flying fox is also hunted for food and sport, despite being legally protected (1) (3) (7). Pteropus species reproduce relatively slowly, reducing the rate at which populations can recover from any losses (6), and the limited range of the Mauritian flying fox makes it particularly vulnerable to catastrophic events. In particular, habitat loss, as well as opening up the forest to hunters, compounds the threat from cyclones, which can sweep bats from roosts and devastate vegetation, leaving little food for survivors. These effects can be particularly severe where habitat is limited or of poor quality, and where bat populations are already under pressure (6) (7) (8).
Until recently, the Mauritian flying fox population was considered relatively healthy as a result of active protection and a lack of severe cyclones (1). However, in 2006 the government of Mauritius endorsed a programme to cull the bats because of alleged damage to commercial fruit crops, despite opposition from conservation organisations (1) (10). It is not yet known whether further culling will be supported (1), despite fears it will leave the bat population even more vulnerable to catastrophic declines (10).