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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 December 2005, 16:13 GMT
Island opens haven for fruit bats
A new reserve harbouring one of the world's most threatened species of bat has opened on the Isle of Man.

The enclosure for Rodrigues Island fruit bats was opened at the Curraghs Wildlife Park by Eddie Lowey, tourism department leisure division chairman.

The project is backed by the Friends of the Curraghs Wildlife Park, its season ticket holders and the Manx Bat Group.

Guests at the ceremony saw their first bat as one emerged from its house shortly after the speeches ended.

General manager of the Curraghs Wildlife Park, Mr Nick Pinder, said: "We didn't arrange for the bat to come out just then but it was perfect timing.

"Rodrigues Island fruit bats are among the most threatened bat species in the world, endangered by loss of habitat on their only island home, Rodrigues Island in the Indian Ocean.

"The Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust co-ordinate an international breeding programme for this species, of which this all-male group is part, so its really pleasing that the wildlife park is not only providing a fantastic exhibit for the visitors but playing its part in wildlife conservation as well."

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