Conservation status

Many horseshoe bat species are poorly known and their conservation status is therefore difficult to assess. However, all the species are vulnerable to loss of foraging habitat through destruction or modification, while they are also (and more significantly) threatened by the loss of roost sites, nurseries, and hibernacula as a result of destruction, disturbance, or vandalism. The widespread use of insecticides is also a threat to some species. The IUCN Red List contains 38 species, 57% of the total species in the family, including 7 that are Data Deficient and 20 that are Lower Risk/Near Threatened. The only Critically Endangered species is the recently described R. convexus of Malaysia. The two Endangered species both have a very restricted island distribution, the Kai horseshoe bat (R. keyensis) being confined to the Kai Islands (Indonesia), and R. imaizumii being restricted to one island in the Ryukyu group south of Japan. The Vulnerable Andaman horseshoe bat also has a restricted island distribution and a small, possibly declining population.

Although the survival of the more widespread species may not be of serious concern globally, regionally the situation may well be more serious. For example, the greater horseshoe bat is globally classed as Lower Risk/Near Threatened but is

A Hildebrandt's horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus hildebrandti) catching prey in midflight. (Photo by Merlin D. Tuttle/Bat Conservation International/Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

regarded as endangered in Europe, where it is threatened with extinction in northern parts of its range. It is declining rapidly as a result of disturbance to its roosts in caves and buildings, vandalism, habitat modifications leading to the loss of large insect prey, and the increasing use of insecticides. Similar problems have beset the lesser horseshoe bat, which is already extinct in northern central Europe and northern Britain, and is threatened with extinction in Germany. This species, with Blasius's (R. blasii), Mediterranean (R. euryale), and Mehely's (R. mehelyi) horseshoe bats, have also been listed as endangered in Europe. A slow recovery of the Mediterranean horseshoe bat has been noted since the most dangerous pesticides were banned in the 1980s, while in Britain the decline of the greater horseshoe bat has been halted by protecting maternity roosts and hibernacula.

The 18 horseshoe bat species that occur in the Philippines are poorly studied there but are known to have been impacted by the widespread disturbance of caves. Other species roost in large hollow trees, especially in lowland dipterocarp forest, and have been severely affected by logging that destroys both the roosting trees and the foraging habitat.

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