Changing the face of coffee farmers: 2012 Bat Workshop in southwestern Sumatra

A mini one-night workshop was host by University of Lampung (UNILA) and conducted by Bukit Barisan Selatan Bat Research Team (BBSBRT) in Way Heni of southwestern Sumatra on July 14 2012. The aim of this workshop is to introduce bats to the local community of Bukit Barisan Selatan (BBS) landscape, which is one of the known areas with most bat species in Sumatra but also a major Robusta coffee agricultural region in Southeast Asia. We hope the workshop can improve coffee famers’ understanding of bats and the ecological services of bats. Then eventually can help the local community to recognize importance of bats to their life and participating in conservation work.

The workshop began since the evening. Around 60 people from Sumber Rejor and Pemerihan villages attended the workshop, and most of them were coffee farmers. The event began by a simple opening by Mrs. Elly L. Rustiati of UNILA , Joe Chun-Chia Huang of Texas Tech University (TTU), and Myner Nusalawo (aka Opo) of Wildlife Conservation Society-Indonesia Program (WCS-IP). Then Joe gave a presentation on some general biology and ecological services of bats, and threatens that SE Asia bats are facing now. Two simple games on were carried out by Miss Eka Sulpin Ariyanti (UNILA), and a local school teacher (Mrs.Janji’s) to increase the participants’ impression of bats’ foraging ecology and pest control service . A demonstration of phytophagous bats from coffee plantation was also conducted to help the farmers to get more familiar with those flying mammals that associated with their life. The workshop was extremely successful! Many farmers interacted with the lecturers throughout the event and showed highly interests in bats. At the ending discussion, some farmers even provided further information on the bats in their plantations, and invited the team to give speech on bats in local schools, and requested to visit the WCS-IP research site within the rainforest!!! The influences of the workshop on famers’ perception to bats will be evaluated by a comparison of two interviews of the participants before and after the workshop.

BBSBRT is a very young academic group that composed of researchers and students from TTU, UNILA, and WCS-IP. The goal of the team is to improve the research and conservation of bats in BBS landscape, and to link to other conservation groups in SE Asia. The team is led by Joe, who is a member of SEABCRU student support team and a PhD student from Texas Tech University.The team is very appreciative of Rufford Small Grant FoundationAmerican Society of Mammalogists, and IDEA WILD in funding the workshop and associated field work. For more information and photos of the event, please follow up Joe’s Facebook (

The workshop materials are now freely available for download. All materials were selected and modified from Malaysia Bat Party Pack, and translated into Indonesian by two SEABCRU members, Mr. Taufiq Purna Nugraha and Mr. Sephy Noerfahmy. Thanks for your kind helps