Journal of Threatened Taxa | www.threatenedtaxa.org | 26 October 2016 | 8(12): 9486–9490





Range extension of the endangered Salim Ali’s Fruit BatLatidens salimalii (Chiroptera: Pteropodidae) in the Anamalai Hills, Tamil Nadu, India


Claire F.R. Wordley 1, Eleni K. Foui 2, Divya Mudappa 3, Mahesh Sankaran 4 & John D. Altringham 5


1,2,4,5 School of Biology, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK

2,4 National Centre for Biological Sciences, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, GKVK, Bellary Road, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560065, India

2,3 Nature Conservation Foundation, 3076/5, 4th Cross, Gokulam Park, Mysuru, Karnataka 570002, India

1 c.wordley@live.com (corresponding author), 2 e_foui@yahoo.com, 3 divya@ncf-india.org, 4 mahesh@ncbs.res.in, 5 j.d.altringham@leeds.ac.uk




doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.11609/jott.2796.8.12.9486-9490 | ZooBank: urn:lsid:zoobank.org:pub:A540CEF7-D751-42A7-8245-59A5AD0DBD7C


Editor: P.O. Nameer, Kerala Agricultural University, Thrissur, India. Date of publication: 26 October 2016 (online & print)


Manuscript details: Ms # 2796 | Received 17 May 2016 | Final received 18 June 2016 | Finally accepted 01 September 2016


Citation: Wordley, C.F.R., E.K. Foui, D. Mudappa, M. Sankaran & J.D. Altringham (2016). Range extension of the endangered Salim Ali’s Fruit Bat Latidens salimalii (Chiroptera: Pteropodidae) in the Anamalai Hills, Tamil Nadu, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa 8(12): 9486-9490; http://dx.doi.org/10.11609/jott.2796.8.12.9486-9490


Copyright: © Wordley et al. 2016. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. JoTT allows unrestricted use of this article in any medium, reproduction and distribution by providing adequate credit to the authors and the source of publication.


Funding: Funding was provided by CEPF (Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund), IUCN-NL Ecosystems Grants Programme, NERC (Natural Environment Research Council) (NE/I528393/1), the British Ecological Society (4863 / 5903), the University of Leeds, and UKIERI (UK India Education and Research Initiative).


Conflict of Interest: The authors declare no competing interests.


Acknowledgements: We thank the Tamil Nadu Forest Department, the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board and managers of Peria Karamalai Tea Company, Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation, Tata Coffee Ltd. and Parry Agro Industries Ltd., for permissions and local support. We would like to thank the field assistants Satish Kumar A., Dinesh T., Pandi, Sunderaj, Karthik, Kannan C., Anand Raj and Anand Kumar. We are also grateful to Emma Rigby, Sarah Proctor, Aurelie Laurent, Ruth Angell, Kate Parker, Swati Sidhu, Dina Nisthar and Aditya Malgaonkar for their help in the field. Many thanks to R. Raghunath for mapping the locations where L. salimalii has been found. Finally, we thank T.R. Shankar Raman, M. Ananda Kumar, and Ganesh Raghunathan for logistical support and advice throughout the project.




Latidens salimalii is the only species in the genus Latidens, and is endemic to India (Bates & Harrison 1997). It is the only fruit bat to be protected under Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, amended in 2006, and is listed as Endangered by the IUCN (Molur & Vanitharani 2008). It was first collected in the High Wavy Mountains in Tamil Nadu in 1948, and misclassified as the Greater Short-Nosed Fruit Bat Cynopterus sphinx, but was later recognised as a new genus and species by Kitti Thonglongya and named after Indian ornithologist Salim Ali in 1972 (Thonglongya 1972). The High Wavy Mountains were the only known location of this species until 1999, when its presence was recorded in the Kalakkad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve, Tamil Nadu (Ghosh et al. 1999).

Since then, Latidens salimalii has been reported from a few more localities in the southern Western Ghats of India; the Kalakkad-Mundunthurai Tiger Reserve, the Kardana Coffee Estate, Meghamalai, and the High Wavy Mountains in Tamil Nadu (Molur et al. 2002; Vanitharani et al. 2004, 2005) (Fig. 1). There is a report from Uppinangadi in Karnataka, which was described as unverified by Molur & Vanitharani (2008), and another unconfirmed report from the Periyar Tiger Reserve in Kerala (Molur et al. 2002).

This cave roosting species has been found at altitudes of 800–1,100 m, and was thought to occupy an area of about 1,100km2, based on the location of known roosts (Vanitharani et al. 2004; Molur & Vanitharani 2008). It has been found in montane tropical evergreen forest and coffee and cardamom plantations (Molur et al. 2002; Vanitharani et al. 2004). Based on remains in their day-roosts, L. salimalii is thought to feed on Prunus ceylanicus, Ficus glomerata, F. macrocarpa, F. beddomei, Elaeocarpus serratus, E. tuberculatus, E. oblongus, Diospyros ovaliflora and Dichapetalum gelonioides (Singaravelan & Marimuthu 2003; Vanitharani et al. 2004; Agoramoorthy & Hsu 2005).

The study was conducted in the Valparai plateau in the state of Tamil Nadu in the southern Western Ghats, an area of approximately 220km2 (10.2–10.40N & 76.8–77.00E), and in the adjacent Anamalai Tiger Reserve (958km2, 10.12–11.070N & 76.0–77.560E) (Fig. 1). The vegetation is classified as mid-elevation tropical wet evergreen forest of the Cullenia exarillata—Mesua férreaPalaquium ellipticum type (Pascal 1988; Raman et al. 2009). The Valparai plateau is an agricultural landscape dominated by tea plantations interspersed with shade grown coffee plantations, eucalyptus plantations, tropical rainforest fragments, streams, and riverine vegetation (Mudappa & Raman 2007). The site is adjacent to the Anamalai Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu, Eravikulum National Park, Vazhachal Reserve Forest and Parambikulam Tiger Reserve in Kerala. Elevation ranges from approximately 800–1600 m, and the average annual rainfall is 3500mm, of which about 70% falls during the southwest monsoon (June–September) (Raman et al. 2009).

EKF caught bats across the Valparai plateau using ground level mist nets from 2008 until 2010. From 2011–2014, CFRW caught bats in mist nets and harp traps in forest fragments, coffee, tea and cardamom plantations, along rivers, and at roosts in tunnels and caves. CFRW caught from February to May in 2011–2013, and from November to December 2014 inside the Anamalai Tiger Reserve with appropriate permits. All bats caught were identified using the most up to date guides and then released on site within 15 min of capture (Bates & Harrison 1997; Srinivasulu et al. 2010). Bats were caught in accordance with Natural England protocol, and their welfare was of the highest priority at all times (http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/Images/wmlg39_tcm6-35872.pdf). Forearm measurements were taken to the nearest 0.1mm using dial calipers. Bats were weighed in cotton bags using spring balances, with weights to the nearest 0.5g.

One individual of L. salimalii was caught by EKF in 2009 and two by CFRW, in 2012 and 2014 (Table 1). All three sites were riparian locations bordered on both sides by forest. Site 1, Candura, is an abandoned vanilla plantation separated by a river and a reservoir from the Vazhachal Reserve Forest, now a naturally regenerating site with some restoration efforts. Site 2, Sangli Road forest fragment, is a large (102.8 ha) forest fragment less than 1km from the Vazhachal Reserved Forest, with a small stream running through it. The bat was caught in a mist net set over the stream. Site 3, Anali, is located inside the Anamalai Tiger Reserve, within 1km of the border with a tea plantation. The bat was caught in a mist net set over a small river.

All bats caught fitted the recorded characteristics of L. salimalii; most notably all showed the single pair of upper incisors that distinguishes Latidens from all other species of fruit bat known from the Indian subcontinent (Bates & Harrison 1997; Srinivasulu et al. 2010). The forearm measurements (68.3–69.8 mm) were similar to those recorded for this species in the High Wavy Mountains (66.0–69.0 mm) (Bates & Harrison 1997; Srinivasulu et al. 2010). Unlike the other fruit bats in the area (Cynopterus brachyotis and Rousettus leschenaultii), L. salimalii has no external tail (Image 1) (Bates & Harrison 1997; Srinivasulu et al. 2010). It is also smaller than R. leschenaultii (forearm 75.0–86.0 mm), but larger than C. brachyotis (forearm 57.3–63.3 mm) (Srinivasulu et al. 2010). The underside of the wings and interfemoral membranes had some fur in all individuals.

Finding this species in the Anamalai Tiger Reserve and Valparai plateau is not unexpected, given the relative proximity of this location to the Meghamalai Wildlife Sanctuary and the similarity in habitat type and altitude to the other locations where L. salimalii has been found. However, it is important to note the presence of an endemic, Endangered, Schedule I species in a new locality. Two of the locations are on private lands, where the forest fragments are not legally protected, although imminent destruction of these forests is unlikely. Despite being reported as roosting in colonies of hundreds (Vanitharani et al. 2004; Molur & Vanitharani 2008), we caught only three individuals during seven years of seasonal mist-netting and harp trapping in the area, so it is likely that it is not locally common. That we mostly caught it over water is likely to be due to it flying lower when coming to drink, and thus being easier to catch than when foraging.

L. salimalii is described as being threatened by hunting for local consumption in traditional medicine, human disturbance of roosting sites and tree cutting in coffee estates (Molur et al. 2002; Singaravelan & Marimuthu 2003; Vanitharani et al. 2004). As all other fruit bats in India are listed as vermin, it is likely that few people are aware of the protected status (Schedule I) of Latidens salimalii. Local education on the status of L. salimalii where it is found may be beneficial; but a deep change in the way that bats are viewed overall in India may be needed to protect these rare endemics.











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