The Philippine bare-backed fruit bat, Dobsonia chapmani, is considered one of the most threatened bats in the world. It was presumed extinct by the 1970s but was rediscovered in early 2000 and was declared critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2006. Hunting, deforestation, guano mining, and a general lack of environmental awareness have led to precipitous population declines. Lack of information on the current threats to this species greatly inhibits conservation efforts leaving populations of D. chapmani at great risk of extinction. To address some of these key knowledge gaps, ethnobiological surveys were conducted to assess bat hunter behavior and perception in the areas surrounding the forest where D. chapmani is found. Generally, bat populations were perceived to be steadily declining and hunting was still seen as the principal driver of this trend. However, the effects of unabated habitat destruction, which are often gradual and subtle, are as likely as detrimental, if not more so, in the long-term. Researchers’ recent sightings of D. chapmani have emphasized the extinction vulnerability of the species and mobilized government protection of remaining forest habitats in the area. Further intensive surveys to estimate population size and understand the ecology of this species, formulation of research-based conservation policies that offer protection at species and ecosystem levels, and community-based programs are vital next steps in saving what is possibly the last surviving population of this endemic species.
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Vol. 36 • No. 2