Image taken of female NGMFB in April 2014

Image taken of female NGMFB in April 2014

In July 2013, LBC was able to fund a project thanks to generous donations from our supporters, to look for the last remaining New Georgian Monkey-faced bats (NGMFB) on the Solomon Islands (SI). LBC partnered with Dr. Diana Fisher & Dr. Tyrone Lavery from the University of Queensland, who both have extensive experience with the unique and endemic biodiversity found on the SI, to begin an extensive population monitoring and roost survey project to find this species on the islands of New Georgia, Vangunu, and Gatokae. Faculty from the University of the South Pacific (USP), and native Solomon Islander and USP student Corzzierrah Posala, are also assisting with this project.

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LBC director, Brian Pope, received an email from Dr. Lavery on April 5, stating that two NGMFB were captured (and released) during field work in January/February. These bats were found on Zaira on the coast of Vangunu, and Tironusa on the eastern tip of New Georgia (see map below), amongst areas that have not been extensively logged. Upon returning to the field a few weeks ago, Dr. Lavery and his team found that camera traps placed near tree roosts at the end of February revealed great photos of NGMFB at a tree hollow. Just last week, two more NGMFB were found on Vangunu.
According to Dr. Lavery,”The recognition of some of the areas we are working in under the Solomon Islands Protected Areas Act is certainly something we are working towards in the long term. As yet there are no areas recognized under the Act. A lot of the results are from Zaira community on Vangunu. They are quite a strongly united community that are working hard to keep their patch of forest intact. I have previously contributed a lot of information to their Management Plan that is one of the first steps needed to have the area protected and they have applied to the government to have their area recognized as a Resource Management Area under the Act”.

Camera photo of NGMFB

Camera photo of NGMFB

We feel this is an extremely important project and coincides directly with Lubee’s mission – to save fruit bats and their habitats through research, conservation, and education. We are dedicated to saving critically endangered species while maintaining a commitment to community education and local involvement in the areas where these bats are found. A major component of this project is not only searching for the bats, but working with local communities. The SI government has recently introduced legislation to formally recognize some community protected areas within the historic range of NCMFB. Presenting rigorous evidence of the biodiversity value of their old growth forest and the status of endangered species will help landowners to secure longer term formal protection for important sites such as the Zaira Community Re-source Management Area on Vangunu Island.

Dwarf flying fox also found during study

Dwarf flying fox also found during study

With poaching running rampant and deforestation escalating in tropical areas for timber and conversion to palm oil, your support can help save an imperiled species before it becomes extinct. Your contribution will also aid the communities living in this area to conserve the last remaining tracts of old growth forests and ancient fruit and nut groves, enabling sustainable natural resource usage while maintaining the last viable habitat for this species.

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Tell your friends and spread the word to garner support for desperately needed conservation measures. Let’s work together to protect this endangered mammal and its habitat before it is gone forever.

Solomon Islands    Area of study in the Western SI

SOLOMON ISLANDS