Nelly Bassily | May 6, 2013
Last year, 2012, was the Year of the Bat. The Year of the Bat was a global species awareness initiative launched by the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals and the Agreement on the Conservation of Populations of European Bats.
Flight has helped bats become one of the most widely distributed groups of mammals. Apart from the Arctic, the Antarctic and a few isolated oceanic islands, bats exist all over the world. They perform vital ecological tasks by pollinating flowers and dispersing fruit seeds. Many tropical plant species depend entirely on bats to distribute their seeds, which also assists reforestation. For more information on bats, go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bat
Bat colonies can contain thousands of individuals, and each animal can eat up to its own weight in insects every night. This considerably reduces populations of mosquitoes and agricultural pests, thereby improving rural livelihoods. By eating insect pests, bats reduce the need for pesticides. On the African continent especially, bats play a significant role in reducing malaria.
The “Bats of 37 Military Hospital” have been featured in several newspaper stories and blogs. A selection of these follow:
Military Hospital authorities get green light to cull bats (GhanaWeb) http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=96161 ;
Bats Adapt To Hospital Premises (Modern Ghana) http://www.modernghana.com/news/55720/1/bats-adapt-to-hospital-premises.html ;
The Bats of 37 Military Hospital (blog) http://anothercolor.com/GhanaBlog/?p=312
A recent story from the online version of the Ghanaian “Herald” newspaper in March 2013 (“37 Military Hospital Bats Could Harbour Deadly Virus” http://theheraldghana.com/?p=14826 ) highlights the issue of zoonoses (animal diseases which can be transmitted to humans). A more balanced write-up on one zoonotic disease can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henipavirus
The Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research in Tropical Medicine (KCCR) is mentioned in this week’s story. The KCCR is a joint venture between the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Ghana; the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana; and the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine in Hamburg, Germany. The KCCR is committed to combining research with educational programs. You can find their website here: http://kccr-ghana.org/kccr/
A story about using bat guano in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was published by Farm Radio Weekly in May 2009 (issue #67). You can find it here: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2009/05/25/1-democratic-republic-of-the-congo-bats-leave-good-fertilizer-on-village-ceilings-syfia-grands-lacs/ and the Notes to broadcasters are here: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2009/05/25/notes-to-broadcasters-on-bat-guano/
Many people do not realize how important bats are for Africa. Despite their benefits, many people still think of bats as evil or as pests, and persecute them. What do your listeners think about bats? How are bats regarded in your community? Is there a colony equivalent to the one at 37 Military Hospital in your area? If so, how does it affect your listeners? What steps are being taken in your locale to protect, or prevent, bats?