"The theory holds that the flying foxes came out of southeast Asia by hopping islands," explained conservation biologist Dr. Richard Jenkins.
"They seem to prefer small fragments of habitat. Why they don't have a foothold in mainland Africa is a mystery," said Jenkins, who heads a local green NGO called Madagasikara Voakajy, which means Madagascar Conserved.
Accepted science holds that fragmentation of natural habitats is bad -- many species have disappeared when their habitat has been diced up by human activities like farming.
Most recorded extinctions over the past few centuries have also occurred on islands, an indication of the fragility of small populations living in isolation.
"Most of the endemic animals depend on intact forest. If it becomes fragmented, they lose species," said Jenkins.
But the big bats are exceptions to the rule.
"There are some species which choose not to live in the big forest. We are not challenging the notion that fragmentation is bad, but the notion that fragments have no ecological value," said Jenkins. END/.
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