Researchers with the Wildlife Conservation Society have discovered a rare bat in Preah Vihear province previously thought to have existed in only one cave in southwest India.
The Wroughton’s Free-Tailed Bat, a high-altitude flyer that measures 92 millimeters long, is considered one of the most endangered animals in the world. It joins the elusive Kouprey, or jungle ox, as the only two animals in Cambodia listed as Globally Threatened-Critical, the final listing before an animal is considered extinct, by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
The Wroughton’s bat was found in December 2000 as researchers conducted a survey of animals in the northern plains area of Cambodia. A paper on the discovery was published in November 2001.
WCS technical adviser Joe Walston said the animal basically dropped into the researcher’s area. It appeared exhausted and near death due to a hematoma. It was captured by hand and died almost immediately, he said.
The bat was first discovered nearly 100 years ago in a cave in southwest India, the only known breeding area for the Wroughton’s Free-Tailed Bat. WCS researchers plan to return to Preah Vihear to conduct a survey of caves near the provincial capital of Tbeng Meanchey, Walston said.
The animal found in Cambodia is now in storage at the Harrison Institute in the United Kingdom.