Off the coast of East Africa, in the Seychelles Islands, a disturbing trade continues well past the guise of tradition. Restaurants and resorts across the islands profit off of the inhumane killing of the Seychelles only native mammal- the Seychelles fruit bat. Hunters catch these animals in all manner of ways, the most common being a horrendously cruel method involving fishing lines with hooks. These traps are strung up and placed directly in the flight path of the bats and cover the vast majority of fruit trees where they are roosting and feeding. Bamboo poles are used to string the net as far as 100 feet in length and up to 50 feet in height. These nets catch and injure indiscriminately, maiming even pregnant mothers and pups who are either pulled down and killed, or left to suffer and slowly perish while ensnared. Some bats caught in the traps manage to escape, only to later die a painful and slow death from the horrible injuries caused by the hooks.
This cruelty is overwhelmingly fueled by tourism, with the majority of these bats being killed on the behalf of the restaurants that serve them. While these establishments boast about their fruit bat delicacies, they claim the hunting and killing of these animals is necessary to control populations. They point to the IUCN classification of “Least Concern” for the Seychelles fruit bat as if it is an excuse, all while excluding the fact that the last census was completed nearly 20 years ago (2004) and at that time, only approximately 8500 specimens were accounted for. With these bats reproducing incredibly slowly, at a rate of one pup per year, human interference in their numbers has a catastrophic effect on local populations.
Between 2004 and 2019, visitation to the Seychelles over tripled, with the approximate number of visitors shooting from 126,000 in 2004, to 428,000 in 2019. It isn’t any surprise that visitation increased- the Seychelles Islands are breathtaking. A quick google search on this destination will lead you to countless travel blogs, with whimsical stories of the incredible beaches, the luxurious resorts, and of course- the island’s famous “fruit bat curry” or even the “roasted fruit bat.” Travelers from all over are intrigued by such taboo dishes, and with the false reassurance from restaurants that hunting the fruit bats is a necessity, guests are happy to give them a try. With the ever rising tourist population in the Seychelles, the unethical killing of these fruit bats is simply unsustainable, and will undoubtedly lead to the species’ demise.
An updated census is desperately needed in order to move forward with regulations to protect these bats. In 2020, a species census was proposed by the Seychelles Ministry of Environment; as of 2023, the census has just begun. As of now the project has no estimated completion date. Once the census is completed, the findings will need to be reviewed before regulations can even be considered, and this whole process could take years- years the bats simply may not have. While government regulations are absolutely necessary to stop this cruelty, so are the voices of bat supporters across the world.
How you can help...
We have partnered with Protect Paradise Seychelles, a wildlife rehabilitation and protection agency dedicated to preserving the island’s native species. Together, we are asking for the public’s assistance in raising awareness, making our voices heard, and stopping this cruel trade. We are currently aware of 12 restaurants serving fruit bat, and we’d like to address each and every one.
For $1.45 USD, we can send one letter to the Seychelles- a letter outlining the cruelty of this practice, why bats are crucial to the environment, and why the killing of these animals is both unsustainable and irresponsible. These letters will be directed both towards individuals within the Ministry, as well as restaurants and resorts currently serving fruit bat dishes. From now until March 1st, we will be running a Facebook fundraiser for the bats of Seychelles, and for every $1.45 that is donated, a letter will be sent by our organization on your behalf. Please click here to view the Facebook fundraiser, and click here to view a copy of the letter. Please see the update below for more information on the fundraiser.
Thanks to you wonderful supporters, As of 02/10, we have exceeded our fundraising goal! At this time, we have put pause to further donations. We are working on sending out the first round of funded letters, and will be providing updates, as well as other ways you can help, on our Facebook page as well as a future email blast.
The photos below may be disturbing, please proceed with caution.
While these pictures are upsetting, we believe they are important to our cause, and may help the public understand our position. Photos are courtesy of a Seychelles resident who would like to remain anonymous.