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Last Updated: Wednesday August 26 2009 10:10 GMT

Warning over fruit bat extinction

Fruit bat wearing collar

Scientists are calling for a ban on the hunting of the world's largest fruit bat to stop it vanishing.

Researchers say the bat will be wiped out from the forests of Malaysia by the year 2015 unless something is done.

They say around 22,000 of the bats, also known as flying foxes, are legally hunted each year, and many more are killed illegally.

The bats are important for the rainforest because they help spread seeds when they eat fruit and nectar.

The animals are hunted for food, medicine and sport.

Scientists studying the animals attached satellite collars to some of the animals to track them.

They found the bats sometimes flew over 35 miles in a night to hunt for food.