HYDERABAD: The critically endangered Kolar leaf-nosed bat, endemic to Kolar district in Karnataka of which just about 250 individuals are left, has received a shot from becoming extinct thanks to Osmania University zoologists.
The last known location of the bat species, Hanumanahalli Betta at Mulbagal taluk in Kolar district, was declared as a Conservation Reserve by the Karnataka State Wildlife Board on Wednesday, thanks to the efforts by Dr Bhargavi Srinivasulu, a post-doctoral scholar along with four PhD scholars from the zoology department of OU. The bat was accidentally discovered in the 1980s by a group of virologists and it was only in 1994 when it was identified as a separate species. However, since their discovery in the eighties the bats were never reported again.
It was much later in November 2013 when Dr Bhargavi undertook surveys in Kolar and finally found the bat species in caves at a hillock in Hanumanahalli Betta. Following this, the team of zoologists headed by Dr C Srinivasulu, Assistant Professor at the zoology department in OU and a member of Bat Specialist group of IUCN, documented information regarding the bat’s distribution, threats, phylogenetic position and conservation status.
Their efforts did not end here. They also studied the area where the bat species was discovered and found that the last remaining individuals of Kolar leaf-nosed bat, face threat to their existence from stone quarrying. Creating pressure on the forest department with persistent efforts, the zoologists ensured that a ban is imposed on stone quarrying in a 5 km radius from Hanumanahalli Betta.
In 2017 Dr C Srinivasulu presented a formal representation to Karnataka forest department asking for declaring Hanumanahalli Betta as a protected area. Following this in 2018, Dr Bhargavi presented the case for the need of conservation measures in Hanumanahalli Betta, which has finally led to declaration of the area as a Conservation Reserve and a 1 km radius around it has been declared as a safe zone.Dr Bhargavi said, “ We will continue visiting Hanumanahalli Betta further to keep a tab on the population and conservation status of the bats.”