Bat colony at college under threat

Concern have been expressed over a bat colony in a college campus where felling of trees is said to have disturbed the habitat of ‘Indian flying fox.' series of representations were made to the district administration, police and forest authorities, High Court Registrar, collegiate education officials, environmentalists and like-minded people to intervene and stop felling of trees so as to protect the bat colony.

Complaints and telegrams were sent pleading for directions to the management of Saraswathi Narayanan College here where thousands of fruit-eating bats have started fleeing ever since felling of trees started a week ago.

Groups of college teachers, students and members of teachers' associations have been holding protests to garner public attention to save the bat colony.

College closed

On Thursday, a procession was taken out at Perungudi and the matter was taken up with the local police. Subsequent to that, the Principal (in-charge), M. Kannan, gave an assurance that the trees would not be touched further and he also took up the matter with college management. A decision was taken to keep the college and hostel closed till August 15.

“In India, 120 species of bats have been identified and 13 of them are fruit-eating bats and the rest of the species feed on insects. Out of the13 species of fruit bats, three are distributed throughout India and live in low-land areas. One among the three is the Indian flying fox ,” said G. Marimuthu, Professor and Head, Department of Animal Behaviour and Physiology, School of Biological Sciences, Madurai Kamaraj University.

These bats live in trees such as banyan, tamarind and Ashoka.

S. Kalyanaraman, Associate Professor of English, Saraswathi Narayanan College, on Thursday, pleaded with the authorities to stop cutting of trees and protect the ecology and environment.

“We have noticed in the last two days that the bats got scattered instead of living in a huge colony which used to have over 5,000 bats. The wildlife habitat will be under threat because of mass felling of old trees,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Tamil Nadu Science Forum and Madurai Kamaraj-Manonmaniam Sundaranar-Mother Teresa and Alagappa University Teachers' Association have condemned the assault on P. Rajamanickam, a science popularisation activist and professor of the college, while he was photographing the felling of trees on Tuesday.

“The professor was keen to preserve the trees and biodiversity. It is unfortunate that he was assaulted and such acts should be condemned,” said S. Krishnaswamy, State president, Tamil Nadu Science Forum.

However, the Principal said that 20 trees were cut in the interest of hostel students' safety since the bats were posing a threat to them.

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