TAMIL NADU

Study planned to throw more light on flying foxes

Bats' colony: The Museum's forested area offers a safe place for the flying foxes. — Photo: S. Thanthoni

Bats' colony: The Museum's forested area offers a safe place for the flying foxes. — Photo: S. Thanthoni  

The fruit-eating bats mainly help in cross pollination and seed dispersal

: The Sausage trees to the left of the Centenary Exhibition Hall in Government Museum, Egmore, have been the home for a few hundred flying foxes, a fruit-eating variety of bats, for nearly a decade. Now, the flying foxes are roosting in the nearby trees as well expanding their colony.

Curious to find out the ecology and environ nourishing these huge fruit-eating bats, WWF-India in association with the Government Museum, will conduct a nature study programme for three weeks involving college students.

“There were no bats in the neighbourhood till 10 years ago. Slowly, the bats started arriving. There was a dip in between. Now, the colony is expanding fast. Groups of bats could have formed the colony as the adult mammals have only one offspring at a time,” says J.R. Asokan, Museum zoologist.

Unlike other bat species, flying foxes do not use sonar sounds for echolocation but smell their food. Taking off at sunset like war planes, these bats, with a good night-time vision, fly around the city feeding on nectar, flowers, pollen and fruits to return to the Museum for roosting early in the mornings, he says.

“The flying foxes are colonial in nature; that is, they live in colonies. The Museum's forested area offers a safe place. The foliage camouflages them from predators,” says K. Venkataraman, Additional Director, Zoological Survey of India. It is a common species in the country, he adds. “The fruit-eating bats mainly help in cross pollination and seed dispersal in the city. There is a possibility of these bats contributing to plant diversity as well. It will be the focal point of the study,” says Rachel Pearlin, State director, WWF - India. The study could throw more ideas and insights for conservation of green spaces in the city, she adds.



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