Dr. Merlin Tuttle visited Gary Wiles, a wildlife biologist with the Department Of Agriculture in Agana, Guam in January 1986.
Greetings from Guam. It's hard to believe, but it's been just over a year since your trip to Guam. The kapok and Erythrina trees are once again in full blossom, signaling the anniversary of your visit. And this year, a fair amount of ripe Pandanus fruit was present throughout January. I thought that you might be interested in a few of the things that have occurred over the last 12 months.
American Samoa passed a law in September [see BATS, December 1986] to protect fruit bats from commercial hunting and exportation. It does allow bats to be hunted for personal use, but places important restrictions on this activity as well. Now that my office has a copy of the law, we have stopped issuing permits for bats from American Samoa. I think your visit there has indeed produced some very tangible results.
I've compiled the 1986 figures on imports of fruit bats into Guam and the top five exporters with estimated totals as follows: Western Samoa, 7035 bats; the Philippines, 2471 bats; Palau, 2402 bats; Truk, 739 bats; and American Samoa, 525 bats. An estimated total of 13,448 bats was imported to Guam for the year.
It will be interesting to see the volume of bats coming from Western Samoa in 1987. To my knowledge, no bats have entered from there since October, mainly because the importer who had been responsible for most of the shipments from there has been away from Guam. Another importer who is interested in making regular shipments of bats from islands in Indonesia to Guam visited our office last week. His new market source is suddenly possible because Garuda Airlines has recently added these islands as a stopover on their Los Angeles-Honolulu-Guam-Bali flight. This only strengthens my belief that air service makes the whole fruit bat trade go. Bats are vulnerable wherever airline connections exist to bring them to the Marianas.
The major Filipino exporter of bats visited our Division twice last year to clear up permit questions and we were able to talk for a while. A nice enough fellow, he surprised me greatly by talking about endangered species and said that he had read your flying fox article in National Geographic ["Gentle Fliers of the African Night," April 1986]. He knew that commercial hunting could deplete a bat population, but he firmly believed that the situation was different in the Philippines, that fruit bats were "common everywhere," and that over-hunting of bats in his country was not a problem. He believed that there were no endangered bat species in the Philippines [see "Philippine Fruit Bats: Endangered and Extinct" beginning on page 3].
Gary J. Wiles Aquatic & Wildlife Resources Agana, Guam
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