Browsing by Subject "Bats"

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  • Fernandez-Llamazares, Alvaro; Lopez-Baucells, Adria; Rocha, Ricardo; Andriamitandrina, Santatra F. M.; Andriatafika, Zo Emmanuel; Burgas, Daniel; Temba, Eric Marcel; Torrent, Laura; Cabeza, Mar (2018)
    Despite conservation discourses in Madagascar increasingly emphasizing the role of customary institutions for wildlife management, we know relatively little about their effectiveness. Here, we used semi-structured interviews with 54 adults in eight villages to investigate whether sacred caves and taboos offer conservation benefits for cave-dwelling bats in and around Tsimanampetsotsa National Park, south-west Madagascar. Although some caves were described as sites of spiritual significance for the local communities, most interviewees (c. 76%) did not recognize their present-day sacred status. Similarly, only 22% of the interviewees recognized taboos inhibiting bat hunting and consumption. Legal protection of bats and caves through protected areas was often more widely acknowledged than customary regulations, although up to 30% of the interviewees reported consumption of bats within their communities. Guano extraction was often tolerated in sacred caves in exchange for economic compensation. This may benefit bat conservation by creating incentives for bat protection, although extraction is often performed through destructive and exploitative practices with little benefit for local communities. In view of these results our study questions the extent to which sacred sites, taboos and protected areas offer protection for bats in Madagascar. These results support previous studies documenting the erosion of customary institutions in Madagascar, including the loss of the spiritual values underpinning sacred sites. Given that many Malagasy bats are cave-dwelling species and that most depend on the customary protection of these sites, it is important to obtain a better understanding of the complex interactions between spiritual practices, taboos and protected areas in sustaining bat diversity.
  • Lohi, Saska (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    Bats can act as potential vectors for various zoonotic diseases and other pathogens. Therefore their interactions with people should be examined to mitigate potential risks. Bats are small flying mammals and hide in small crevices during daylight hours, making them difficult to observe. Consequently, they have a capacity to “hitchhike” on ships to be dispersed over large distances. This study focused on anthropogenic unintentional bat translocations, i.e. hitchhiking bats. The study area is the Great Lakes region in North America. Using a web-based questionnaire survey, I asked the public about the frequency of bat-human encounters on ships, their nature, and perceived risks and incidents. I found that bats are commonly seen by people working on ships at the Great Lakes. Bats do not cause trouble other than scaring people. Based on photographic evidence, at least one bat was seen on a ship outside of its native range. Therefore ships might act as vectors, helping bats to disperse to new areas. This might provide pathways for pathogens to spread along, from bats to bats or from bats to humans. The risks related to hitchhiking bats seem to be rather limited. Rabies risk is the most obvious, but no cases of people getting rabies infection from hitchhiking bats were acknowledged. The possibility of ships translocating bats infected with Pseudogymnoascus destructans remains unknown. This study demonstrates how by engaging the public it is possible to gather novel scientific knowledge, and deepen our understanding about the relationship between man and wildlife. There are numerous hidden ways of how people interact with animal species. This study illuminates one of these ways, but many more are yet to be studied.