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Bats losing habitat concerns environmentalists

Bats losing habitat concerns environmentalists
Highlights

Just as sun sets, a spectacular view of swarms of bats fill the evening sky with an eye arresting scene0 Many think of them as birds but these are handwinged mammals who hang upside down sleeping during the day and wander in the night in search of food

Hyderabad: Just as sun sets, a spectacular view of swarms of bats fill the evening sky with an eye arresting scene0. Many think of them as birds but these are hand-winged mammals who hang upside down sleeping during the day and wander in the night in search of food.

They can fly from one part of the city to another in search of food like fruits and nectar for up to 16 kilometers. It is hard for them to fetch food since the fruiting trees in urban are diminishing and they are located afar. It is getting harder day by day with the loss of habitat. Thomas C Jerdon in his book mammals of India say small eyes and large ears of bats make them capable to sustain long hours. Although bats are among the most misunderstood creatures, part of it is because of their shamanic features and for being disease vectors. They are also the same fruit bats which were the cause for Nipah virus outbreak. In fact, they are wretched creatures losing their habitat day by day due to largescale concretisation and human activities.

The city hosts about 17 species of bats, of which fruit bat is the most common one. The IUCN website reads that cutting down of roosting trees is part of the reason for loosing bat habitat. While Chiropterologist Dr C Srinivasulu says “Leschenault’s fruit bat, the bats that roost in Golconda fort about 18 years ago used to exist in large numbers about 10 -12 thousand. Today the number is merely four thousand, which is because of the controlling activities undertaken by Archeological Survey of India (ASI) as they are perceived as a threat and producers of foul odour.”

Fruit bats have roosted in the city for decades a large population can be seen in buildings like High Court, City college, on palm trees of Necklace Road and a huge population can be sighted at Chilkoor Village among fig trees. The flying mammals are also among the least studied creatures people hardly know that there are over 1,000 species of bats comprising over one quarter of all mammal species. Fruit bats help in seed dispersal, pollination, while insectivorous bats reduce mosquitoes and still bats have attracted a coterie of admirers.

BY Mayank Tiwari

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