Ready to bat for bats? Join this ‘fruity’ project

It’s time to check out the bat roosts near your home! In a unique move, a citizen science initiative is being launched where the local residents are being included into a bat conservation project.

Published: 16th June 2022 01:52 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th June 2022 01:52 AM   |  A+A-

For representational purposes.

Express News Service

KOCHI: It’s time to check out the bat roosts near your home! In a unique move, a citizen science initiative is being launched where the local residents are being included into a bat conservation project. All one needs to do is to visit the bat roosting sites, share the details in a form floated by the organisation — you just did your bit to protect the bat species Indian Flying Fox. 

The project is being launched by the Kerala Forest Research Institute’s (KFRI) Department of Wildlife Biology. Titled ‘The Fruit Bat Project’, it is initiated by the Centre for Citizen Science and Biodiversity Informatics in association with the Conservation Leadership Programme and is headed by Dr Balakarishnan P, scientist, Department of Wildlife Biology. 

The idea is to map the bat -roosting sites in Kerala and thereby help conserve the bats, raise awareness about the species among the community and help people coexist with the bats. “Democratising the practice of science by involving the general public is the only way forward to fill the data gaps to address global issues like biodiversity loss and climate change,” said Dr Syam Viswanath, director, KFRI.

The initiative will be launched officially this week across the state. “A dark usage has always been attributed to bats. They play a huge ecological role in the form of helping in pollination, seed dispersal and so on. However, they are under threat. 

“The Indian Flying Fox, which is common in the state, is one species of bat that is hunted for its meat. After Nipah, people tried to drive bats away from their roosting sites. The project is a move to help humans coexist with bats and help their conservation,” says Nithin Divakar, a researcher at the Wildlife Biology Department of KFRI.

An online form will be floated by KFRI where the public can key in the details about roosting sites. All one needs to do is fill in the form and share details of the roosting site, location and pictures. After the details are received, a team of scientists, researchers or volunteers will visit the site and analyse the conditions and threats to the roosting site, if any. 

A campaign to make people aware of the importance of bats will be launched. “This will help not only conserve the bat species but also manage a crisis such as the Nipah outbreak,” says Nithin. As a pilot project, it will be launched in Kerala and will be expanded to other south Indian states later, the sources informed.



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