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Bat Research and Conservation2018-11-07T09:13:58+00:00

BAT RESEARCH AND CONSERVATION PROJECT

Over 40,000 straw-coloured fruit bats have been counted by our team during monthly bat counts at various sites throughout rwanda. Each time we re-visit these sites we see their roost trees being cut down and hear stories of local people trying to chase them away. We hope to learn more about the bats of rwanda better and engage local communities to join us in protecting them.

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OUR PROJECT

Our research project in Rwanda aims to document the important roles bats play, generate missing information and quantify the ecosystem services. We will study bothinsectivorous bats and fruit bats, collecting fecal samples to identify the role they play in seed dispersal and pest control. We will then focus on the most abundant species of bat in Rwanda, the Straw-Coloured fruit bat (Eidolon helvum) and conduct monthly counts to estimate the number of individuals and colonies. We will also collect data to better understand their movement patterns, ecology, roost preferences and give information about which habitats need to be protected.

WHY BATS?

Bats provide us with crucial ecosystem services and have an important role as seed dispersers, pest controllers, and pollinators, yet a quarter of all global bat species are known to be threatened due to the loss of foraging habitats and roosts mainly caused by human activities. Despite the rich biodiversity of bat species, they are the least studied when compared to other mammals.

Radio advertisements are accompanied by live talk shows to discuss and debate the issues raised and encourage members of the public to call in with questions. This gives a gauge of public attitude and understanding and helps us to assess any changes over time and highlight the focus needed on subsequent talk shows to address any misunderstandings. In addition, we often feature on Rwanda television and press releases are sent to all major newspapers.

WORKING WITH COMMUNITIES

Looking for bats

We have many plans…

Once we know more about bats in Rwanda, we will use this information to design relevant conservation actions and measures. People often fear or are not aware of the importance of bats and their roles within the ecosystems. This project aims to raise awareness and educate people about the important role of bats and the need for their protection.

We plan to launch an additional media campaign, engage children in schools nearby key sites where bats are known to roost and set upLocal Site Support Groups where members will be trained in basic data collection and monitoring techniques which is essential for longer term project monitoring and sustainability.

Working with the community in Ruhango District

We work with experts from around the globe

In addition to our strong team at RWCA, we are privileged to be working with many experts from around the globe to ensure we build the capacity of our staff and guarantee the work we do is of top quality. We are collaborating with Dr. Rodrigo Medellin from Mexico and Dr. Paul Webala from Kenya who will join us in field work and share their extensive skills and knowledge. We also hosted Beryl Makori from the East African Bat Conservation Network to train our staff and are happy to be connected with Bat Conservation International.

RWCA would like to thank Rolex Awards for Enterprise for providing funding to make this project a reality, as well as Houston Zoo who have supported us with expanding our team. The work we do would not be possible without our generous and encouraging partners.