Pemba Flying Fox – the largest fruit bat in the world

Pemba Flying Fox

The Pemba Flying Fox is the largest fruit bat in the world – a “megabat” – weighing up to half a kilo, with a wingspan of over 5.5 feet. Some adults are not as tall as this!

The Pemba Flying Fox is endemic to Pemba Island (Zanzibar archipelago); this means it cannot be found anywhere else in the world. They are very social mammals and roost in large colonies of up to 850 bats.


The Pemba Flying Fox Characteristics & Diet

This enormous Pemba fruit bat has a fox-like face, bright auburn fur and black ears, nose and wings. Unlike many other bat species, the Pemba Flying Fox can see clearly and does not need echolocation to locate its food. They also roost during the day in trees, rather than in caves. The Pemba Flying Fox tends to feed on fruits such as mangoes, breadfruit and figs, but also eats flowers, pollen, nectar and leaves.


The Pemba Flying Fox Habitat

It lives in the tropical forests, mangroves and graveyards of Pemba – places with limited disturbance from humans. The Pemba Flying Fox is important to the ecology and economy of Pemba, since it disperses the seeds of native and cultivated plants. As a result, isolated plant species can spread their genes across the island.


Pemba Flying Fox Conservation

Until the 1990’s, the Pemba Flying Fox was hunted by local people for its tender meat and was at serious risk of extinction until the government banned the use of shotguns to hunt the bats. Thanks to conservation projects on Pemba Island, numbers of Pemba Flying Foxes have significantly increased - although they remain an endangered species due to the threat of habitat loss from deforestation.

Intro photo and gallery pictures 3&4 @ Robin Batista
Gallery picture 2 @ Peter Bennett

Intro photo and gallery pictures @ Dhamir Ramadhan Yakout

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