Fog

Residents learn more about bats’ ecological importance

Monday 18 March, 2013
More than 100 people learnt more about the ecological importance of bats at two events held during the long weekend.

More than 100 people learnt more about the ecological importance of bats at two events held during the long weekend.

Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority Conservation Management Network (CMN) Coordinator Janice Mentiplay-Smith said the Broken Boosey CMN organised 'Bat Night at Numurkah' on Saturday and 'Boxes for Bats in the Broken Boosey' at Wunghnu on Sunday to support the annual Australasian Bat Night campaign.

"Bat experts and researchers Robert Bender and Tanja Straker spoke at both events," Ms Mentiplay-Smith said

"On the Saturday night, about 60 people enjoyed the discussion that centred on the local grey-headed flying foxes that live at Numurkah along the Broken Creek. Robert also spoke about microbats, while Tanja brought along anabats devices so we could 'hear' the calls made by the micro bats flying about as dusk fell."

The next day 45 people attended the 'Boxes for Bats in the Broken Boosey' field day at Wunghnu.

"After hearing from Robert and Tanja, learning about the ecology and biology of bats, we spent the afternoon constructing bat boxes, which people got to take home," Ms Mentiplay-Smith said. "The boxes are used for roosting sites for bats during the day. Bats normally use tree hollows for roosts, but these are not as abundant as they once were due to land clearing, therefore it's important that we provide these 'substitute' homes."

The materials for the bat boxes were pre-fabricated for easier building, using timber donated by D&R Henderson's Benalla

The Australasian Bat Society introduced the inaugural Australasian Bat Night during 2011-2012 the Year of the Bat. The aim was to raise awareness and inform people of bats in their community, their ecological importance, how they live, their needs and the threats they face.

"Bats make up around 20 per cent of the world's mammal species but despite there being around 90 species in Australia, bats remain little known by the general public, until they come into contact with humans," Ms Mentiplay-Smith said.

"Unfortunately media stories featuring bats often focusing on the negatives - such as Hendra virus and flying-foxes. The important ecosystem services provided by flying foxes, including pollination and native fauna seed dispersal, get ignored. Small insect eating bats are also crucially important in insect control, particularly of mosquitoes, which is rarely acknowledged.

"These Bat Night events provide an opportunity to celebrate and educate people about the positive aspects of bats."

Photo:  Bat experts and researchers Robert Bender and Tanja Straker