The cute fruit-eating flying foxes of Sumatra are crucial to the island's ecosystem. They are also on their way to being a threatened species.
The Indonesian island was once home to numerous colonies of hundreds of thousands of bats but now, some say, most colonies are down to a tenth of what they once were. The reason? Locals believe the animals' meat can cure asthma. A medical myth that holds no basis in fact but the bats are paying for this superstition with their lives.
Flying foxes are caught by the hundreds and sent to the provincial capital of Medan where they await their unfortunate end. Many die along the way, one witness said he's seen a pile about six feet high of dead bats that didn't make the journey. And the ones that do are often skinned alive before being given to customers.
Bats like the flying fox are responsible for 90% of the growth in tropical rain forests in Southeast Asia. Without them the entire ecosystem could collapse. Flying foxes are highly social, highly intelligent animals and, like all living things, deserve our respect and protection.
The government of Indonesia needs to end this slaughter before it's too late. Sign the petition to tell Indonesia to protect this incredible animal and ban the capture and sale of flying fox.