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Page last updated at 10:56 GMT, Monday, 12 April 2010 11:56 UK
Bristol Zoo's bat project gets big funding boost
Bristol Conservation and Science Foundation staff and supporters in the Comoros
The funding will safeguard the project for these staff for a further three years

A Bristol Zoo-led project which helps save endangered fruit bats has been awarded more than £670,000 from the French Development Agency.

The money means the zoo will be able to expand its work in the Comoros Islands, which are home a number of threatened animals and plants.

The Comoros is composed of three main islands lying between Madagascar and Mozambique in the Western Indian Ocean.

The funding will safeguard the project for a further three years.

Two animal species which are particularly in danger from extinction on the islands are the endangered Livingstone's fruit bat and the critically endangered Anjouan scops owl.

Both are under threat due to the destruction of their forest habitat.

Bristol Conservation and Science Foundation (BCSF) - part of Bristol Zoo Gardens - has been working to protect the forests on the islands of Anjouan and Mohéli since 2007.

This work has been carried out in partnership with Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, the University of East Anglia, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

BCSF's new contract with the French Development Agency means the project team in the Comoros can continue its work with local communities.

Livingstone's fruit bat
The Livingstone's fruit bat is in particular danger in the Comoros

This includes developing new ways of protecting the nearby forests and farming the land without encroaching on the forests.

It will also allow the team to expand work with the local community from four to 12 villages, finding new sources of income for villagers, such as setting up allotments which allow them to grow and sell vegetables, reducing their reliance on the forests.

Neil Maddison from BCSF said: "Our ultimate aim is to help the people of Anjouan and Mohéli to protect the native animals and plants which are found only on these islands.

"This means we need to help villagers find new ways of earning a living which does not involve cutting down the forests."

The Comoros Islands are one of the least prepared countries in the world to deal with the impacts of climate change due to its social, economic and natural resource situation.

The mayor of the region, Abdoul Majid, said: "This project has shown us that we can take control of our futures by thinking about the problems we face, in order to find sustainable innovations which improve our livelihoods today, and conserve our natural resources for the future.

"Generations to come will benefit from the work we are doing to protect our water sources and water catchment zones."

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