Endangered Species Handbook

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Vanishing Species

Actions and Attitudes: Page 8

     Specimens of a highly endangered fruit bat of the small Mascarene island of Rodrigues, the Rodrigues Flying-fox (Pteropus rodricensis), were captured for captive breeding when wild populations became threatened by killing for food by local people.  It amazed researchers studying them when a female exhibited mid-wife protective behavior seen only in a few other animals, such as dolphins and elephants.  One of the females in the process of a difficult breach birth was aided by the other, who fanned her, cradled her in her wings, and showed her the proper position to cling to the cage bar during the three-hour delivery (McFarling 1994).  Wild populations of this species are listed as Critical by the 2000 IUCN Red List.  Other flying foxes that once inhabited these islands are now extinct, and the Rodrigues Flying-fox is the last to survive.  Without the emergency rescue of some of these foxes, the altruism and devotion of these animals would probably not have been recognized.

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