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Posted Wed Aug 26 2009: from BBC (UK):
'Flying Fox,' world's largest fruit bat, soon hunted to extinction
Researchers say the large flying fox will be wiped out on the Malaysian peninsula if the current unsustainable level of hunting continues. Writing in the Journal of Applied Ecology they say around 22,000 of the animals are legally hunted each year and more killed illegally. They say the species could be extinct there by as early as 2015. Flying foxes can have a wingspan of up to 1.5m and are crucial for the rainforest ecosystems in this part of Asia. Lead author, Dr Jonathan Epstein of Wildlife Trust, told BBC News: "They eat fruit and nectar and in doing so they drop seeds around and pollinate trees. So they are critical to the propagation of rainforest plants." The most optimistic estimates put the population of flying foxes in peninsular Malaysia at 500,000.
[Read more stories about: hunting to extinction, anthropogenic change, ecosystem interrelationships]
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