Giant Golden-Crowned Flying Fox, Acerodon jubatus
The giant golden-crowned flying fox or the golden-capped fruit bat (Acerodon jubatus) is a species of megabat that can be found in the Phillipines. Its range is fragmented across many islands including Boracay, Bohol, Mindoro, Luzon, Polillo, Negros, and Mindoro. This species prefers a habitat in remote forests at elevations of up to 3,600 feet. It can be found near agricultural areas, but only if these areas do not have human inhabitants.
The giant golden-crowned flying fox can reach an average weight between 1.5 and 2.6 pounds and wingspan of nearly six inches. This species is one of the largest bats in the world. The fur on its body is dark brown to black in color, while the fur on the head is golden, the trait from which it received its common name. As is typical to fruit bat species, this bat has no tail.
The giant golden-crowned flying fox has been known to roost alongside the large flying fox, with colonies numbering up to 150,000 individuals in the past. These numbers are not common in present times, because fruit bats are rare in this area, but the two species continue to roost together. This behavior provides protection from natural predators and warmth in colder months, although it allows humans to hunt the species with ease. There is little information about the breeding habits of this species, but it is thought to breed twice a year in order to ensure pregnancy. Pregnancy can only occur once and results in the birth of one pup. Females typically reach sexual maturity around two years of age.
As is typical to bat species, the giant golden-crowned flying fox is nocturnal, although it may move about its roost during the day. It will fly at least 25 miles from its roost in search of food. In 2005, a study conducted regarding the habits of this species showed that it used river corridors more often than previously thought, because figs, its preferred food type, occurred in high numbers along rivers in the area. Although its main diet consists of figs, it will also consume other fruits like lamio, tangisang, and bankal, among other types. This bat is an important seed disperser within its range. It displays a unique behavior, using water to groom its fur.
The main threat to the giant golden crowned-flying fox is habitat loss caused be deforestation, which has eradicated populations on larger and small islands, like the island of Panay. This population was once classified as the Panay giant fruit bat, a distinct species, but was later re-classified as a member of the giant golden-crowned flying fox species. Other threats include hunting for meat, although this does not occur in every area of its range.
Because there is a lack of information about this species, conservation efforts have focused on research as well as conservation. These efforts include the instatement of government-managed program in Maitum, Sarangani and research projects conducted in the protected areas of Subic Bay. Conservations groups involved in saving this species include the World Wildlife fund, the Lubee Foundation, Bat Conservation International, and the Wildlife Conservation Society. These groups conducted conservation efforts and educate people about this bat both locally and worldwide. There is one breeding program for this species, as reported by the IUCN. The giant golden-crowned flying fox appear on the IUCN Red List with a conservation status of â€œEndangered.â€
Image Caption: A resting Acerodon jubatus (golden crowned flying fox), taken by Gregg Yan. This particular individual was found hanging from a tree on the outskirts of Davao City on the island of Mindanao in the Philippine Islands. Credit: Gregg Yan/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)