Andersen AFB preserves fanihi; Mariana fruit bat survey

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Aubree Owens
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs

Members from 36th Civil Engineer Squadron environmental flight partnered with the University of Guam along with the Government of Guam, United States Fish and Wildlife Service and members of the community to conduct this year’s fruit bat survey on Aug. 20, 2021 at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.

Among agencies, community members and volunteers from 21 different organizations on base, 89 participants were able to participate in the survey and add to historical data that has been collected to help the endangered fanihi, a fruit bat that is endemic to the Mariana Islands.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has listed fanihi as an endangered species. Additionally, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species lists the Mariana fruit bat species as “threatened with extinction”.

“Whenever we do any type of federal action, whether it be trimming a couple of trees or putting in a military construction project, we have to make sure that what we are doing is protecting our natural and cultural resources,” said Sarah Diebel, 36th CES environmental flight chief. “We have to do our part in making sure projects are given a thorough environmental impact analysis to ensure we are in compliance with the law and that we implement conservation measures into the projects, when necessary.”

The annual surveys for the fanihi began in 2013, when the fruit bat’s roost site began to scatter across the northern part of Guam. Tracking the species’ migration pattern is important so that their habitat and other cultural locations can be persevered on the base.

All of the volunteers for the survey were in place, dispersed across Andersen AFB’s terrain, before 5 a.m. since the bats are nocturnal and they tend to forage during hours of darkness. In order for the survey to be successful, each volunteer was responsible for making timed observations if they saw any fruit bats and where they were coming from and going to in order to learn more about where they find their food and where they inhabit.

“The survey helps us understand what populations we have here to assist in their protection,” said Diebel. “It’s our job to align Andersen’s mission of projecting air power, expanding combat capability, and strengthening partnerships from the forward edge of the Indo-pacific, with natural resources conservation.”  

The results of the 2021 Annual Fruit Bat Survey concluded successfully with more information on the fanihi, which allows members from the 36th CES environmental flight understand the species better and implement protective measures to ensure Andersen AFB is preserving the endangered species.