THE FLYING FOXES AND ALL THEIR STRUGGLES WITH HUMANS
“To rats, bats are angels”
The bats are one of the most misunderstood group of animals and the wildlife terror against bats goes through the centuries unfortunately. It is almost like humans have promised themselves to fight bats, even without knowing why. The role of the bats is somehow wrong presented to the public, due to the many non-scientific based Hollywood movies and the saga of Dracula and vampires. They are mystical, dark and lucrative…or at least, people are portraying them in that way and casing them a bad reputation, declining of the population and final impact on ecosystem, with losing their place and tasks in the nature.
The bats are very intelligent animals and scientists still don’t know much about them. It is all about assumptions because of lack of real approach to the biology of bats and their role in the complete environment. People usually hear about bats being reservoir of dangerous viruses or parasites but they do not have a clue that bats control insect population, that they are indicating biodiversity, do pollinating and seed dispersing. I would be happy if the education would be so universal and implemented in all levels so the human beings would be informed about the crucial importance of the bats for our ecological system and the prospective life of the Earth. It is more than sad that those mammals are cruel killed and terrorised for trying to survive and live the life they are supposed to have. They are not on the Earth to pass the deadly viruses on us but if we keep with deforestation and industrial colonisation, their habitat is endangered and they move to the urban areas and risk to touch community and its agenda. The clash of species is caused by aggressive human conquering of natural environments of the animals so those animals are forced to move into the people’s regions.
What do we know abut bats so far? They are fascinating because as very simple mammals they use pretty much complex navigation system, known as echolocation. There are about 900 species of bats and half of them rely on echolocation to avoid problems in flight, to find their colony and shelter or to provide food resources:“Echolocation–the active use of sonar (Sound Navigation And Ranging) along with special morphological (physical features) and physiological adaptations–allows bats to ´see´ with sound. Most bats produce echolocation sounds by contracting their larynx (voice box). A few species, though, click their tongues. These sounds are generally emitted through the mouth, but Horseshoe bats (Rhinolophidae) and Old World leaf-nosed bats (Hipposideridae) emit their echolocation calls through their nostrils: there they have basal fleshy horseshoe or leaf-like structures that are well-adapted to function as megaphones.”
Those hand-wings mammals are very secretive and since they only hunt at night, they are somehow mystical and dark for many people and their comprehensions. It takes a lot of understanding and open mind to accept the fact that bats are more than relevant for all of us and that we need to put efforts to protect them and empower bat conversation.
Their role in biodiversity and the wildlife is not to be underrated because they are one of the first responders on the environmental damages and landscape modifications. As we know, the bats may live in different locations and under different conditions and those primmer changes cause the severe changes and adaptations of the bats in their nocturnal life and survival logic. They used to live like refugees all their life long. Forever condemned and not accepted, the bats move their homes together with their influence in the natural processes. If we remind that almost 500 species of plants depend on bats as pollinators, we would immediately do something about their active protection. Did you know that mango, banana, durian, guava and agave ( used for tequila) are there only because bats have been hard working and helped the pollination? This practice is called chiropterophily and it empowers our ecosystem. The second but not less important is their role in pest control. How they do it? They eat insects and regulate their number so some insect species can not outnumber the another. This is a real natural balance and the bats are doing a wonderful job, being nocturnal hunters that prey on mosquitoes and other annoying little creatures that are producing fast. There where the bats are controllers, it is usually the clean situation and the crops is protected. This also means that use of pesticide is reduced and therefore the whole pressure on the nature. The greedy human population do not understand that relation and keep pushing chemicals into the environment, causing the artificial cleaning and elimination of insects, which results with hunger of bats and other pest controllers. In long period of time, this turn to be a misbalance and gets malign shape.
They help the development of rain forests through their work on spreading the large seeds from one place to another but they are not resistant on the ecological deviations and industrialisation. They are very fast little mammals that can obtain even 100km/h, depending on the bat art, but they are not so fast to avoid dangerous disease that is defined as the White Nose Syndrome. The aggressive white fungus are attacking the wings and muzzles of the hibernating bats, that usually end up with their death. The scientists work hard to detect how to prevent it or to save the animals from this terrible illness at the moment when they are the most sensible, in the hibernation phases.
Those fury fliers are not our enemies but little helpers and very significant members of the healthy wildlife and environmental system. They know their tasks and they do it well, with no compliments but people are those who break up the silent agreement, attack the flying foxes, kill or simply make their life miserable. If you meet the bat or the bats somewhere, please do not take it or them without caution. The best option is to consult the expert for wildlife that will apply special measures that will prevent animal or person to be harmed in any possible way. They are not coming to bring you message about death, to give you vibes from Dracula or to disturb you. They are here on the Earth because that is their Planet too and they have all rights to be here, among us, doing their thing, the best they can, providing us delicious fruits, evenings without furious insects and rich beauty of the nature.
Maybe they are more than mystical but, at the end, even with the touch of the darkness and shadows, their role is positive and they need us as much as we need them, for our healthy and prosperous habitat.
SAVE THE BATS or LIVE THEM ALONE!
One thought on “THE MOST MISUNDERSTOOD ANIMALS: THE BATS”
Sarah’s informative and imperative article emphasizes the fragility of all organisms on Earth; all of which are vulnerable to both natural and synthetic pressures…
The noun ‘bat’ derives from the ancient Roman-Latin word ‘blatta’ (i.e. nocturnal insect-eating moth). The mammals belong to the order of Chiroptera (i.e. Greek χείρπτερόν [cheirpteron] – hand wing).
The oldest fossil records of bats reach back to c. 52 million years ago. Theories proclaim that they evolved from terrestrial rodents by extending the ability to jump and then by manifesting wings to move between trees (e.g. like flying foxes). So far, palaeontologists have only documented 12% of the total of estimated genera of bats that have existed…
Bat species have both evolved and become extinct via natural and unnatural progenitors. For example, Palaeochiropteryx tupaiodon became extinct 48 million years ago: it existed in an area of what is now Germany when the region was dense tropical jungle interspersed with very active volcanoes. The competitive and hostile environment may have influenced how bats began to fly and become predators via echolocation. Predominantly, they preyed upon moths and caddis flies, and the bats were nocturnal.
However, the extreme environment might have triggered aspects that resulted in the extinction of the species (e.g. excessive competition, volcanic displacement, pathogens). This was a period of flourishing biodiversity (i.e. 48 million years ago).