Bats, mammals that are actually capable of true flight, make up a quarter of all mammal species on earth with thousands of them residing in India. Population of many mammals, including the bats, in India has turned endangered because of the ever increasing population of the country which currently stands at around 1.23bn and ignorance among the masses.
A recent study by researchers of the University of Leeds in Britain has found that rapid deforestation in India as a result of population growth has threatened the population of bats. Various species of bats found in India are increasingly finding it hard to survive in not so conducive environment.
The researchers particularly studied the Indian Western Ghats where most of the deforestation is taking place. The Indian Western Ghats, which is regarded as the eighth most biodiverse place in the world, has put many on their toes as if this place can’t be safe for the bats that live in highly dense forests then it is actually really hard to find a secure habitat for them. The researchers have found that due to deforestation, a number of bats in the Western Ghats have moved to either tea plantation or coffee plantation. But, it is not a preferable habitat for all the bats.
These bats are just trying to survive as they also know that leaving the tea or coffee plantation may endanger their existence. Lead researcher Claire Wordley warned, ‘further deforestation would be a serious threat to these species, but the good news is that they are, for the moment, surviving in small forest patches, riverine habitats and in coffee plantations’ (The Time of India).
Deforestation in Western Ghats has occurred largely owing to human intervention. A large population of India rely on agriculture as a source of income and this has led to deforestation and ultimately to ecological misbalance. There are as many as 123 species of bats in South Asia, and almost all of them reside in India. They account for one-fourth of India’s mammal fauna and more than one-tenth of the world’s bat species.
According to Professor, John Altringham, Leeds University, human intervention and self-centered development has left just 6% of the original habitat in the region. He further added that bats are one of the best-known bioindicators and help in analysing the effect of humans on our flora and fauna.
Safe guarding the bats of India calls for a range of measures on all levels. It should start form educating the masses about the urgency of bats conservation. Many people ignorant about the role that bats play in balancing the ecosystem. Therefore, it is important to at least inform them that the extinction of the species may lead to adverse outcomes on the ecosystem.