International Bat Weekend is Here!

By Paul Robinson - 25 Aug 2016 7:30:13 GMT
International Bat Weekend is Here!

There are only18 species of bat in the islands of the UK, which is a poor record compared to European or North American numbers. They range from the 5g pipistrelle to the big horseshoe bats, which are now considered related to the giant fruit bats, formerly known as megabats. (They always sounded like a rock group!) This lovely specimen is a Panamanian fringe-lipped bat. Bat image: Credit: © Patricia L. Jones

This is the International Bat Weekend (August 27-28th, 2016.) From its European Bat Night origins, it is thought a worldwide approach to the problem of conserving our bats will produce public interest in a sorely neglected order of 1300 mammals. Eurobats used to hold their nights to encourage the bat groups and bat walkers to gather together and study how best to protect and conserve both habitat and bat species.

One of several ways in which technology helps people who carry out bat research is explained by Chris Brown from FLIR Systems. Thermal imaging is being used more and more in conservation projects because it has one unique property; it allows us to monitor wildlife without being obtrusive to it. For the majority of us seeing is believing, so we’re pleased technology is being used to help raise awareness of and protect the endangered bat community in the UK Bat detectors are possibly more familiar, where the ultrasonic chirrup of bats is made audible, helping to identify the species you are watching.

The role that bats play in our ecosystems is largely ignored, but their lack of numbers shows great deficiencies in food webs because of their absence. Many bat species are endangered with heavy declines for at least 50 years. They desperately need more protection and study to enable that protection to be put carefully in place. The US are thought to have been the first to place an economic value on the pest control functions of most bat species, but research now takes this value into account.

Events we show at the moment are limited to the UK, which has a site here to help anybody to enjoy the feel of a bat night, eat bangers or burgers or attend a workshop on using some of the technology that is available for bat watching. Even if you don’t venture out to view the silent hunters around a lamppost, delve into the varied species of bat and the miracle of their navigational techniques, their wide distribution and their sheer difference in being flying mammals!