Conservation of Cave Bats Outside Protected Areas in Central Ghana

25 Jan 2021 Bomfobiri Wildlife Sanctuary, Ghana, Africa Bats | Education | Habitats | Mammals

Bismark Appiah Opoku

Other projects

2 Mar 2017

Identification and Protection of Caves Important for Bat Conservation

The aim of our project is to contribute to the long-term conservation and management of the bats: It aims:

• to explore community participatory management of the Mframaboum cave
• to intensify education on the conservation needs of bats and their habitats (caves)
• Provide a reference call library for insectivorous bats in Central Ghana.
• Provide first-time bat records for the Bomfobiri Wildlife Sanctuary, BWS.
• to provide valuable information on bat activities in agricultural landscapes and BWS.

Team member about to remove bat from the net.

Team member about to remove bat from the net.

Tropical habitats around the world are changing rapidly and areas outside of protected areas are increasingly being recognized for their biodiversity (Wallace et al., 2003; Primack, 2006). In Central Ghana, different species of bats including the near-threatened West African endemic Jones’ leaf-nosed bat, Hipposideros jonesi roost in caves located in agricultural landscapes (Opoku unpublished). Although our preliminary cave surveys discovered three new caves with populations of H. jonesi in agricultural landscapes, information on how bats use these rapidly changing landscapes is limited. Also, there is no direct conservation measure in place for species such as H. Jonesi since it is not known to occur in any nature reserve over its entire distribution range(Cooper-Bohannon et al., 2020). Therefore, our first goal is to explore how bats use the agricultural landscapes through acoustic monitoring and provide first-time bat records of the remaining natural remnant vegetation as preserved in the Bomfobiri Wildlife Sanctuary, BWS. This will provide valuable data on the activities of the entire insectivorous bat assemblages within the landscape as well the diversity of bats in BWS.

Caves are important roosting sites for bats, yet they are susceptible to many threats. Our project aims to address threats posed to bats by religious groups using the Mframaboum cave for religious activities by exploring community-centred management options. We recognized that community-based approaches to conservation is essential for promoting a sense of ownership and ensures long-term impacts. Therefore, the project will facilitate learning exchanges between the Kwamang community and Buoyem (a community with a protected bat cave) and engage relevant stakeholders in exploring management options for bats. Conservation education is vital for simulating behaviour change and conservation actions and has positive associations with environmental knowledge, attitudes, behaviours and intentions (Hoffmaster et al., 2016; Ardoin et al., 2020). Therefore, our project further builds on the successes of the previous project by intensifying conservation awareness of relevant stakeholders to improve understanding of bats, their conservation needs and reduce threats to bats and their habitats.