Year of the Bat Events! Highlight of Events from Autumn/Winter 2011
Year of the Bat Events!
Highlight of Events from Autumn/Winter 2011
© Carmi Korin
Contributor: Dr. Carmi Korin
On the 7th of August, the local council of Yeruham teamed up with the Birding and the Ecology center to celebrate bats! The day long education and awareness raising event was attended by over 300 parents and children and activities included creative and active stations, a lecture on bats, a film screening and a personal encounter with Egyptian fruit bats. Participants were invited to sign a “friendship treaty” between bats and mankind.
Johannesburg Zoo’s Batty October
Contributor: Candice Segal
During October, Johannesburg Zoo celebrated Bat Month with a series of public talks and bat catching events organized with the Bat Interest Group of Gauteng. The bat catching event provided a good opportunity for guests to see free living Cape Serotine bats and Seba’s Short tailed bats in the new enclosure, “Temple of the Ancients”. Public talks were aimed at dispelling common myths and shining light upon the importance of bats. On the 29th, Halloween was celebrated with the display and talk on bat boxes followed by a fund raising event.
© Luis F. Aguirre
The Day of the Bat (Bolivia)
Contributor: Luis F. Aguirre
The Latin-American Network for Bat Conservation (RELCOM) celebrated the 1st of October as the “Day of the Bat” with celebrations across all RELCOM member states. In Bolivia, the Bolivian Bat Conservation Program (PCMB) together with the Museum of Natural History Alice D’Orbigny, organized and hosted a series of lectures and activities in order to raise the profile of bats and bat conservation.
Click here to read a short note in English
Click here to read the report on The Day of the Bat in Spanish
New Jersey’s Bat Cave
Contributor: Joeseph D’Angeli
The Wildlife Conservation and Education Centre in New Jersey had planned a three day event titled “Bat Stock” but unfortunately, two of the three days had to be cancelled with the onset of hurricane Irene. However during the First day, attendees were able to feed the bats and talk over nibbles, the importance of bats and the myths shrouding these beautiful creatures.
The Centre was visited by the Executive Director of Bat Conservation International (BCI), Ms. Nina Fascione and a member of Argentina’s Bat Conservation Prorgram (PCMA), Ms. Susana Rosenfeld and Director of the Centre, Joseph D’Angeli has informed us of future events organized in collaboration of both these dedicated bat conservation groups.
© Joeseph D'Angeli
Bats in the News! Highlights from Autumn/Winter 2011
Bats in the News!
Highlights from Autumn/Winter 2011
"Hear" Better by Changing the Shape of the Outter Ear
During the month of November, Rolf Müller, associate professor of mechanical engineering at Virginia Tech, and his students shared with the world the astounding results of their studies. Certain bats, such as the horseshoe bat, alter the shape of their entire outer ears in the space of milliseconds, to better “hear” the sound waves bouncing off objects and prey. Detailed analysis on the hypothesis was conducted using high-speed video and high-resolution imaging technology and the results left a buzz of amazement and appreciation for the world’s only flying mammal. The study, which appeared in the journal Physical Review Letters titled “Ear Deformations Give Bats a Physical Mechanism for Fast Adaptation of Ultrasonic Beam Patterns”, documents horseshoe bats manipulating the shape of their ears in a tenth of a second, faster than the time it takes for humans to blink, in order to effectively and efficiently pick up the bouncing sound waves from objects and prey during echolocation.
What we are reading:
Science Daily: "Bats Show Ability to Instantly Change Their Ear Shapes, Making Their Hearing More Flexible"
Fungus Geomyces destructans Identified as Cause
Progress was made during October as scientists and researchers were able to conclusively determine that the fungus Geomyces destructans, is indeed responsible for the deadly disease White-nose syndrome (WNS). Although G. destructans have always been suspected as the cause, until the reseach work of the group led by David Blehert from the National Wildlife Health Centre at the US Geological Survey, there was no prior conclusive scientific evidence to support the suspicion.
G. destructans cause for the appearance of a white fungus on the infected bat’s nose, wings, ears and or tail. Infected bats have been noted to act out of character as they awaken earlier from hibernation and use up the essential fat reserves needed to see them through winter. They fly around in daylight or sub-zero temperatures and usually die of starvation or the cold.
Bats across Europe have been documented to have been infected by the fungus but inexplicably and to much relief, infected European bats have not faced the disastrous fate as the vast colonies of infected bats across the United States and in some parts of Canada. There, G. destructans has had a sweeping effect on certain hibernating bat colonies. Sincere and hurried efforts are underway to find a cure for infected colonies and ensure new healthy ones are protected.
Bats, Biodiversity and Economics
With nature and bat conservationists, researchers and scientists keen to find a solution to the fast dwindling bat numbers as the white-nose syndrome (WNS) inflames specific bat colonies, biologists have added weight to the concern as they weigh the impact on biodiversity and on the economy.
Bats are responsible for munching through a substantial amount of critters and as thus, are crucial for the health of forests. Also, their insatiable appetite for insects makes them one of the most efficient eco-friendly pest controllers and farmers around the world benefit as a matter of consequence. Biodiversity and ultimately agro economy also benefit from bats acting as pollinators and seed dispersers. Hence, it is understandably a cause for concern that bat numbers will be hit hard this hibernating season. As of yet, there are various estimates as to what the WHN will cost farmers during the following harvesting season in pest control. It is believed that the figures could run as high as $23 billion – a calamity for both biodiversity and economics during these trying financial times.