You may have caught the “Bill Nye Saves the World” segment on flying foxes. The featured scientist who studies them calls them “sky pups” because some of them look surprisingly like dogs. Others look like, well, foxes with wings. Their faces and necks are covered with reddish fur and they have small pointed ears characteristic of foxes, along with big, smooth wings. They look like foxes and, when resting, pose like Nosferatu, their wings closed around them like a cape. That’s the look of the Mauritian flying fox, also known as the fruit bat.
Mauritius flying foxes might have a chance at survival, except that their government keeps culling them–in the thousands. Approximately every two years, the government authorizes a “cull,” euphemistic word for mass slaughter, of flying foxes because they eat a few farmed mangoes. Farmers are perfectly capable of protecting their crops with sealed nets. But it appears they prefer to slaughter thousands of innocent mammals instead.
Unfortunately, all flying foxes live on islands, and all of them are going extinct. In Australia, laws have been enacted to curb hunting of these animals, but invasive species are still decimating them.
The foxy island dwellers have nowhere to go when they are threatened by hunting or habitat loss. Their boundaries are the seas that surround them. And flying foxes are the original inhabitants of the islands they dwell on. When humans landed on Australia’s Christmas Island, there were all of five endemic species. Humans and the exotic species they introduced, quickly dispatched four. The only original inhabitants are the flying foxes, and they are quickly disappearing.
Please sign my petition asking the Mauritian government to make the culling and hunting of flying foxes illegal.