A comparison of the effectiveness of methods of deterring pteropodid bats from feeding on commercial fruit in Madagascar

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Tatamo E.A. Raharimihaja
Jo L.M. Rakotoarison
Paul A. Racey
Radosoa A. Andrianaivoarivelo


We compared the effectiveness of methods of deterring Pteropus rufus from feeding on commercial fruit in east central and southeastern Madagascar in 2012–2013 during the Litchi chinensis harvest. Two of the three methods used, installing plastic flags and ringing bells in the trees, were derived from those used by litchi growers in the southeast.  We improved and standardized these methods and compared their effectiveness with an organic product made from dried blood and vegetable oil (Plantskydd®) with a taste and odour aimed at deterring mammal feeding.  The bats damaged from 440–7,040 g of litchi fruits per tree and two of the three methods reduced the fruit lost to bats: the plastic flags and the organic deterrent.  There were significant differences in the damage levels between the study sites and between our three methods of deterrence.  The plastic flags and bell ringing methods were significantly less effective in reducing the fruit bat damage compared to the taste deterrent.  The latter was most effective when it had enough time to dry and adhere to the fruits after spraying and before rain.  Its effectiveness was further demonstrated in flight cage experiments during which Rousettus madagascariensis avoided litchis treated with Plantskydd®.  Analysis of bat faecal samples revealed no feeding preference but the collected samples contained large numbers of Ficus seeds, suggesting that the bats feed extensively on Ficus fruits rather than on fruit of economic importance.  Apart from fruit ripeness, tree productivity or other phenological factors did not affect the amount of fruit eaten by the bats.   More fruits were damaged by birds than bats at both study sites.


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Author Biographies

Tatamo E.A. Raharimihaja, Department of Animal Biology, Faculty of Sciences, University of Antananarivo, BP 906, Antananarivo 101, Madagascar

Tatamo Eugenie Andréa Raharimihaja is a conservation biologist with a Master’s. degree from the University of Antananarivo  on the effect of forest edges on Verreauxi’s Sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi) in Kirindy forest, western Madagascar. She is now a consultant in the Department of Zoology, University of Antananarivo, investigating conflicts between biodiversity and human society. This article is her first publication.


Jo L.M. Rakotoarison, Department of Animal Biology, Faculty of Sciences, University of Antananarivo, BP 906, Antananarivo 101, Madagascar

Jo Laurent Mahery Rakotoarison also has a Master’s degree from the University of Antananarivo. Presently, he is a field biologist with the organization Malagasy Miaro Wild which works mainly on protection and conservation of lemurs in the Anjanaharibe-Sud Special Reserve. His main area of interest is the conservation of threatened Malagasy vertebrates and their unique habitats.  


Paul A. Racey, Centre for Ecology and Conservation, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, Cornwall Campus, TR10 9FE, UK

Paul A Racey is Regius Professor of Natural History (Emeritus), University of Aberdeen and Honorary Visiting Professor at the University of Exeter in Cornwall. He has worked on Malagasy mammals for 30 years, mainly on bats, and helped to establish the organization Madagasikara Voakajy. 


Radosoa A. Andrianaivoarivelo, Department of Animal Biology, Faculty of Sciences, University of Antananarivo, BP 906, Antananarivo 101, Madagascar and Aro Velona, Lot C 084 D Antovontany, Ambohijanaka, Antananarivo Atsimondrano 103, Madagascar

Radosoa A. Andrianaivoarivelo obtained his Doctorate in Biology jointly from the Universities of Rennes1 and Antananarivo   for research   on the ecology and population biology of Madagascar’s smallest fruit bat Rousettus madagascariensis. Presently Rado and his team attempt to understand local community needs and carry out conservation action when natural habitats are threatened, in particular attempting to mitigate  unsustainable exploitation of natural resources. 



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