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Protect Colony Locations at the Roost

Bat conservation through roost protection by local communities has been demonstrated to be effective for the recovery of previously declining populations (Mildenstein 2012; Fig. 12.6). The adoption of such roost protection programs in other countries could hold the key to sustaining populations. This is especially true for areas where fruit bat hunting is intense. If successful roost site protection programs could be demonstrated and published, these could be used as models for other areas (e.g. P. rufus populations in Madagascar—M. Ralisata pers. comm.; P. vampyrus in Malaysia, M. Gumal, pers. comm.; P. vampyrus and A. jubatus populations in the Philippines, SOS 2012).

Fig. 12.6 Tourists viewing formerly hunted fruit bats at their protected roost site in Mambukal Resort, Negros Occidental, Philippines (credit LM Paguntalan)

Regulated Hunting

In many areas where hunted bats are threatened, hunters do not want to extirpate bat populations, but they also do not want to lose the ability to hunt bats (Mildenstein 2012; Cawthorn and Hoffman 2015). In fact, some roost site protection campaigns are successful, because hunting outside the roost site is not discussed or prohibited, making it easier for hunters to respect roost site sanctuaries (T. Mildenstein pers. obs.; SOS 2012). Once communities understand that human disturbance has population-level impacts and that conservation management must balance negative impacts with the bats' innate ability to add to their population, community-level planning of a sustainable hunting program can ensue. Targets must be established for minimum population sizes and numbers of viable populations before hunting can be allowed. After thresholds are reached, sustainable harvest levels must be determined using adaptations of the well-developed harvest management practices for other species.

Finally, an effective enforcement and harvest regulation program must be designed that starts out conservatively, carefully tracking impacts of hunting on bat populations and making adjustments to hunting allowances as needed. Halstead (1977) described how regulated hunting of E. helvum at the University of Ile Ife in south western Nigeria can be mutually beneficial to the bat population, local community livelihoods, and managers of property where roosts are present. In places where hunting laws are in place but not respected or enforced, education and outreach are instrumental in garnering public support (as Madagasikara Voakajy has done for roosts of P. rufus in Madagascar).

Encourage Local Researchers and NGO's

A key to effective and sustainable conservation is to develop the capacity of local people, including local researchers and the establishment of local NGOs (Racey 2013). Few detailed studies report reliable estimates of bat hunting impacts on bat populations. Some studies may indeed have been conducted but remain as Masters or PhD theses or published as grey literature or in local journals, thereby limiting the distribution of such information. Because valuable results are not often published or accessible, current efforts to revise species account entries in the IUCN Red List have had to rely heavily on experts gathering unpublished information to determine conservation priorities for hunted species (T. Mildenstein, unpublished data). It is important that biologists are encouraged to publish their findings, even in lesser developed countries where there are few if any personal incentives for doing so (Milner-Gulland et al. 2010).

Finally, the establishment of local non-profit organizations creates a network for stakeholders and a bridge between local interests and conservation management. Such organizations play a critical role in ensuring the sustainability of conservation projects across political administration changes by engaging the local stakeholders and coordinating conservation activities in harmony with local needs

(e.g. Figs. 12.5 and 12.6).

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