The unprecedented heat this summer has proved a bane to the flying foxes (pteropus scapulatus), whose population is already dwindling.
They mainly inhabit temperate and sub-tropical coastal areas — often close to water sources — and, being unable to withstand the blistering sun, are falling prey to it. With the largest body size of all bats, they have grey heads resembling foxes.
As the temperatures soar, they are being found dead beneath the trees where they nest this hot season, causing concern to bird watchers and environmentalists.
According to animal lover Mahesh Kumar Vemulapally, they are already on the verge of extinction. They need to be preserved as they are very useful to man, by preying on small harmful insects and helping natural afforestation by pollinating seeds.
Mr. Vemulapally says they need to be protected in the summer with the help of the fire department. In certain countries, the governments help endangered wildlife by creating a congenial atmosphere. The Fire Service can spray water on trees where flying foxes nest, he suggests.
These bats have dark-coloured fur on their body and legs down to the toes. They have large eyes that give them well-developed vision so that they can clearly see at night. They have also an excellent sense of smell to locate food.
C. Srinivasulu, an expert member of the Biodiversity Board and Assistant Professor of Zoology in Osmania University, says that the population of flying foxes is coming down badly and this summer has been particularly cruel to them.
According to him, they play a major role in the regeneration of native hardwood forests and rainforests by pollinating as they feed and disperse seeds as they move throughout the forest.
Since they are mainly fruit eaters, they cause harm to the orchards and farms. However, they are useful in the upkeep of environment, says Sadia, head, Department of Zoology, Women’s College, Nizamabad.
Keywords: flying foxes, heat wave in Andhra Pradesh, Department of Zoology, Nizamabad