Last year, IUCN published guidelines for minimising the negative impact of guano harvesting on bats and called for relevant studies. The first of these has now been published by Thet Thet and Khin Mya Mya of Mandalay University, Myanmar in the open-access Journal of Threatened Taxa. It provides clear evidence that the amount of guano harvested from a cave in central Myanmar occupied by 200,000 Taphozous theobaldi and Tadarida plicata remained relatively constant over a three year period, with some seasonal variation, indicating that the bats were not disturbed by the harvesting. A single family has held a licence for over 40 years from the local Forestry Department to harvest the guano, and this has clearly been an important factor in its sustainability.
Abstract A three year study of the weight of guano removed from a single cave in Myanmar, from which guano has been extracted for over forty years, indicates that such harvesting is sustainable. The cave is occupied by an estimated 200,000 bats, mostly Tadarida plicata. An annual licence is issued by the Forestry Department to a single family which extracted an average of 36 tons of guano each year from 2003 to 2005. The guano is transported 350 km to Lake Inle where it is sold to fertilise tomatoes.
SPECIAL NOTE FROM TIGGA: This is the first publication to arise from the publishing workshop embedded within the SEABCRU Bat Conservation Workshop at the University of Mandalay in August 2014. CONGRATULATIONS from all at SEABCRU to Thet Thet and Khin Mya Mya in bringing this to completion, and a special thanks to Paul Racey for liaising with the journal. I look forward to many more publications featuring the great work being done in Myanmar!