Our mission to film a camera-shy fruit bat

There’s an Endangered bat that’s found only in a remote part of India, where it lives in caves in the Western Ghats.  It’s one of the three rarest bats in the world

Salim Ali’s fruit bat

Salim Ali’s fruit bat is small: about 4 inches (10cm) long with a wingspan of about 16 inches (40cm). Its superb flying skills mean it’s a useful pollinator and seed disperser for the tropical ecosystem it’s part of, and that ecosystem depends on it to exist and evolve. However, with barely 1,000 individuals left, this endemic bat is in danger of being wiped out.  For the first time ever, conservationists from On the Edge (OTE) and Nature in Focus have successfully filmed Salim Ali’s fruit bat on high-definition video. The 4K footage was captured during an expedition to the Western Ghats and it reveals these furry, otherworldly flyers in astonishing detail. Eyes wide open, you see them hanging upside down in the far-away cave where they roost.

Salim Ali’s fruit bat

Rare Footage

Why the Western Ghats matters

‘Our goal was to highlight this species to help ensure its protection into the future,’ says Dr Jonathan Baillie, OTE’s chief strategy officer. ‘It is important people understand the Western Ghats is a critical area to protect if we want to secure the great diversity of life on Earth.’

Running parallel to India’s west coast, the Western Ghats is among the world’s most biodiverse regions. Salim Ali’s fruit bat is just one of at least 325 globally threatened species that rely on its mountain, grassland, meadow, and rainforest habitats for survival. Many of these birds, amphibians, and flowering plants are Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE), which is why the region is an EDGE Zone.

Sharing stories about nature

‘It’s really exciting […] to be involved in the video capture of such an interesting species,’ says OTE CEO Beth Blood. ‘It provides us with the unique opportunity to create stories and share them with a wide audience outside of the science world. Our purpose here at On the Edge is to introduce people to nature through entertainment to help them reconnect with it. “Never seen before” footage does just that.’

For more videos of wonderful and unique species, tune into our Nature in the Western Ghats miniseries!