14 Oct 2009

Rare bat in Northern Marianas under threat

4:13 pm on 14 October 2009

The Mariana fruit bat is at risk of extinction in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands because of over hunting.

The mammal, known as fanihi, has been a delicacy in the Chamorro culture for thousands of years but the use of guns for hunting has seen their numbers drop dramatically.

A biologist for the CNMI division of Fish and Wildlife, Julia Boland, says although it is illegal to hunt or harass the species, poachers have targeted maternal colonies, slaughtering mothers and babies.

"Everybody knows that it's illegal. But it's just that everybody know they're not really enforced, so it doesn't really matter, there are no consequences. But there's definitely a need for more education to let people know the consequences of taking out this population, that not only is it going to affect their forests but they're not going to have this species anymore on their islands."

Julia Boland says the United States federal government has recently increased measures to enforce the law.