Αναδημοσιεύω από τον Μαχαλλά ένα άρθρο για τις νυκτερίδες της Κύπρου. Πιστεύω ότι πρέπει να γίνει προσπάθεια να αλλάξει η εχθρική στάση πολλών συμπατριωτών μας προς τα συμπαθή πετούμενα θηλαστικά, που όχι μόνο δεν είναι βλαβερά αλλά είναι άκρως ευεργετικά.
This past summer, I worked as a bat surveyor for a freelance bat ecologist in Scotland.
We had to survey buildings for the presence of bat roosts. This was done because anyone planning to build or develop their property in the UK needs a "Habitats Regulations Licence", to ensure that the development does not harm bats and their habitats and takes into account wildlife legislation.
I got into this almost by chance, but by the end of summer, I found myself looking up at the night sky, desperately trying to make out some whizzing bat in the dark, stopping abruptly every now and again, focusing and listening closely to hear that familiar buzz of their social calls wherever I went.
You are probably thinking, as my family and friends did, that living in dark, cold Scotland was finally getting to me and turning me into some kind of pale, night-dwelling half-human half-scientist kind of creature.
Well, that did happen, but what also happened was that I was suddenly thrown into this secret, magical, nocturnal world that thrives in the darkness while we sleep unawares, using complex machinery that we only discovered a few decades ago and senses that we can only dream of.
These mammals have mastered flying and echolocating (the equivalent of Radar or Sonar technologies) and many species live in colonies and have interesting social structures which we still don't know that much about.
Bats also provide services to the ecosystem with their insect -eating and plant-pollinating habits.
All in all, after being introduced to bats, I believe even more strongly in the little miracles of life that have evolved so masterfully on this planet.
So in Cyprus there are at least 14 species of bats, an amazing number considering the size of Cyprus (The UK hosts 17 species in all), this rich diversity supported by the numerous different habitats around the island. The most amazing thing however, is that Cyprus has Egyptian fruit bats, Rousettus aegyptiacus (first and third photos), these truly beautiful mammals which are the only species in their genus to echolocate.
Unfortunately, bats in Cyprus are not very popular among Cypriots, as I have understood by reading several articles in the newspapers in the past year describing their extermination. In fact, this does not come as a surprise, considering that Fruit bats were declared as pests by the Department of Agriculture of the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment of Cyprus since the early 1900s. Measures to reduce them consisted of fumigation, shooting, the purchase of dead bats and the closing up of caves. The methods led to the destruction of other species too, including highly beneficial and protected insectivorous species.
Despite the current protected status of bats in Cyprus, as in the whole of the EU, the old misconceptions and attitudes toward them are still held strongly by some Cypriots. Bats are being shot for fun, their habitats are being destroyed by pollution and development and the wider public is still ignorant about our very precious natural heritage.
A really cool and informative booklet about our bats can be found here. Do check it out.
For anyone interested in following up the destruction and conservation of the Egyptian Fruit bat in Cyprus, a historic review can be found here.
Also visit: http://www.eurobats.org/index.htm
For a short clip on bats by Attenborough watch this
and ofcourse google bats for more general info.