15 Sep 2021
Potential Impacts of Climatic Change on the Foraging Efficiency of Species of Bats (Mammalia: Chiroptera)
The globally Vulnerable Harrison’s Giant Mastiff Bat uses the volcanic cave roosts of the iconic Mount Suswa Conservancy, Kenya and crucial maternity colonies are now endangered. This is due to the expanding ecotourism, human disturbance and resulting pressures on the area’s forests which are used for foraging areas.
Our project, in partnership with the Mount Suswa Conservancy, Maasai Mara University and the IUCN Bat Specialist Group, will establish how bats use the Mount Suswa caves and their population status to improve management of the cave systems while promoting sustainable ecotourism and roost protection. We will engage communities to promote and catalyze protection and restoration of local forests as foraging habitats for bats, other economically and ecologically important species, and for climate change mitigation. We will train local farmers and pastoralists on roost conservation, gating techniques, monitoring protocols, capitalizing on cooperative relationships to protect key roosts. Local guides will be trained as part of a robust education and awareness programme to outdoor enthusiasts and local communities to enhance messages about the conservation and benefits of our target species and to increase visitation to the Conservancy. With all the adverse publicity about bats because of COVID-19, this project gives confidence to the public, media and authorities, based on the international support for the project that bats are safe and are vital to the future of Kenya.