Conserving the Diverse Bat Species Assemblages at the Musanze Volcanic Caves in the Midst of Misplaced COVID-19 Fears, Northern Rwanda

22 Feb 2021 Musanze, Rwanda, Africa Bats | Education | Mammals

Nziza Julius


Other projects

24 Jan 2014

The Conservation of Bat Species and their Roosting Habitat in the Volcanic Caves at Musanze District, Northern Rwanda

8 Mar 2018

The Conservation of Diverse Bat Species (Mammalia:Chiroptera) in Volcanic Caves at Musanze District, Northern Rwanda

Musanze Caves are home to a variety of bats species. Different anthropogenic activities are done in and around the caves including tourism. However due to COVID 19 Pandemic and information that bats are a source, there is so much fear and misinformation that can lead to bats threats. The project will focus on sensitization about bats conservation, establishing protection sanctuaries and Covid 19 prevention and control. These will be through radio talks, workshops and seminars and also support to school environmental clubs, training of tourism staff and provision of masks to relevant stakeholders. Main output will be a much-sensitized community on bats conservation and COVID 19 prevention measures and established bat conservation sanctuaries in this important ecological niche for bats.

Musanze District is endowed with a significant number of volcanic caves and tunnels hosting hundreds to thousands of bats belonging to over 8 species. This project will be implemented in a vital section of the Musanze Caves.

Objectives will be to make sure that the Local communities around the volcanic caves will be sensitized on COVID-19 prevention and bats conservation. Training and empowering local Bat Conservation Cooperatives with knowledge and skills about bats. Engagement of local conservation stakeholders and leaders about the importance of conserving bats and their roosting habitats through meetings and workshops. This project targets to set up environmental school clubs and build strong community groups as agents of advocacy for bats within communities.

Fieldwork at Musanze Caves and a robust public education and community outreach program among communities surrounding the caves constitute a major component of this project. The exercise will take 12 months. Working with communities, we will survey and select potential roost sites and nearby communities for sanctuary development based on the roosting population size, threat level, location, and the community’s level of interest. We will also train local communities, tourism industry stakeholders on the importance of bat conservation and COVID-19 prevention and control around bat habitats.

Methods to be used will include Radio talk shows that will be used to sensitize local about bat conservation in the wake of COVID-19 Pandemic. Bats conservation brochures will be supplied directly to 200 homesteads. Workshops and meetings of the local leaders and hospitality stakeholders will be held bats conservation and COVID-19 pandemic. We shall sensitize them on ecological and health roles played by bats, sensitize on COVID-19 prevention and control measures. Our efforts will reduce the risk and prevent caves from being closed and bats killed. Our proposed project activities will lead to protected roosts, and more robust population sizes of bats.

Education within communities will help produce a better informed and empowered citizenry. The roost sanctuaries themselves will result in bat populations that are secure for breeding, leading to immediate population size increases. Overall, the project will result in a mobilized and sensitized community in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic at Musanze Volcanic caves. This will lead to sustainable conservation of the bats and their cave roosting habitat.