Being batty about bats

The United Nations Environment Programme, the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species and many bat conservation organisations have declared 2011 as the Year of the Bat, which coincides with the United Nations International year of Forests.

July 25, 2011 08:38 pm | Updated 09:03 pm IST

Kelaart's Roundleaf bat. Photo: Dr. C. Srinivasalu

Kelaart's Roundleaf bat. Photo: Dr. C. Srinivasalu

Bats are the primary animals that help to disperse seeds and aid pollination in temperate and tropical forests. They play a vital role in helping to regenerate and sustain almost one third of the Earth'sland area, which is under forest cover.

“Bats are one of the most misunderstood species of animals in the world. As they are nocturnal, human interaction with them is very little and hence there are many myths generated about them,” says Dr C Srinivasulu, Department of Zoology, Osmania University.

The United Nations Environment Programme, the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species and many bat conservation organizations have declared 2011 as the Year of the Bat, which coincides with the United Nations International year of Forests.

A whole variety

There are more than 1200 species of bats found in the world. Of this, 114 species are found in India and Andhra Pradesh is home to 38 species. There are 17 species of bats found in Hyderabad, some of which are rare and some have lost their habitat. The Nalamalla Tusky Round Leafed Bat, which is a sub species of the Round Leafed Bat, is endemic to Andhra Pradesh and is found only in the Nalamalla Hills.

“A classic example of loss of habitat is of the Rousette Fruit Bats. The largest colony in India of these bats was found in the Rani Mahal at Golconda Fort.

Twelve years ago we had more than 10,000 bats residing in this location. Today only two thousand bats live here.

Human activity has affected this colony very badly,” continues Dr. Srinivasulu.

Everywhere in the world bats are classified into mega and micro bats.

The mega bats are large and are generally fruit eating. The micro bats are smaller and are insectivorous.

As they fly around at night, the micro bats help to control even the mosquito population. The frugivorous bats help in pollination on a large scale. Some plants are specifically dependant on bats for pollination.

Helpful

“Bats are the only flying mammals in the world and hence are very special,” says Aditya Srinivasulu, a Std. VIII student, at St Peter's High School, New Bowenpally.

“There are no blood sucking bats found in India and Vampire Bats are found only in South America. We do have a species known as the False Vampire Bat, these bats feed on rodents, other bats and frogs.”

The Chinese believe that bats are a good omen and there is even a popular good luck sign in China which is made up of five bats.

The only place in India where bats are respected is in Bihar and Jharkhand, where bats are believed to be a form of the Goddess Lakshmi.

For more information on bats one can contact Dr Srinivasulu @ 040 27682218 or send him mail @ csrinivasulu@osmania.ac.in

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