Updates on the first bat conservation education program in Bangladesh

From Nurul Islam

Bats are the least studied and most neglected mammals in Bangladesh. Most of the people hate bats due to misconceptions and age-old myths. Some peoples treat the bat as only a pest of crops, nuisance and dirty animal. Besides concurrent outbreak of nipah encephalitis (Nipah Encephalits, a fatal zoonotic disease of human associated with date palm sap contamination by fruits bat in Bangladesh) creates a negative attitude among the community people. So it was an urgent need to conduct educational program among the community people to protect these fascinating mammals in Bangladesh.  We started our first bat conservation education program in 2009. The program was supported by Whitley Wildlife Conservation Fund, Global Grass root conservation fund of Bat Conservation International and Columbus Zoo Conservation Fund in consequent year. We have an aim to conduct series of educational program among the community people to eliminate the myths and spreading the message about the role of bats.

We develop some outreach materials (which you can download here) in native language (Bangla) and disseminate to a wide range of participants. The participants include the school children, farmers, orchards owner, hunter, university students, policy makers and community people. So far we are able to reach 2000+ people from our study area which includes Chittagong, Comilla, Faridpur, Chapai Nawabgong, Tangail districts of Bangladesh.   The programs includes 20 school education campaign, 5 villagers education , 2 zoo education, 2 seminar, and 1 workshop during the study period.  The school education program mainly focused on the drawing competition, easy writing, quiz competition and Bat math solution etc. The village education campaign was targeted the farmers, orchard owners and hunters as our primary focused people for education.  We try to convince the orchard owner not to use destructive netting method in their land.  The farmers are suggested to use non harmful pesticides or organic pesticides in their crops.  During Nipah encephalitis outbreak season we conduct three educational programs among the community people. As boiling date palm sap and using bamboo skirt is the possible way of get rid from nipah infection, we spread the message along with role of bats to the environment.

We are facing some problems during conducting education campaign among the farmers specially orchard owners. They are asking a non destructive and sustainable method for controlling bats from their crops. Unfortunately there is no sustainable non destructive methods yet develop in Bangladesh to control the bat from economic crops. We are asking your help and suggestion for developing the methods in Bangladesh perspective. It can protect the millions of bats death by entangling in the destructive net.

By Nurul Islam, Group for Conservation and Research of Bat, Bangladesh. nurul(dot)dvm(at)gmail(dot)com