Nepal | August 11, 2020

Time ticking for bats in Kathmandu Valley

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Kathmandu, August 10

Bats, generally known as a natural seed dispersers, are on the verge of extinction in the Kathmandu Valley.

According to bird experts and researchers, their prime habitats in the Kathmandu Valley are being destroyed due to rapid urbanisation and felling of trees for road expansion and construction of buildings.

Keshar Mahal and Narayanhiti palace premises in Kathmandu and Sallaghari in Bhaktapur are the prime habitats of bats in the Valley.

However, recent research exposed that their population had declined by at least 600 in the last nine years.

Dr Pushparaj Acharya, a research fellow at National Academy of Science and Technology, said just around 700 bats had been recorded on Keshar Mahal and Narayanhiti palace premises in the 2015.

At least 1,300 bats were recorded in the previous count in 2006.

“We found that felling of trees for road expansion and construction of buildings has led to significant decrease in bat population,” he told The Himalayan Times.

Although the decline in bat population in Bhaktapur is not quite alarming, their habitat is being destroyed due to rapid urbanisation. According to the experts, bats eat ripe fruits in the night and sleep for the whole day hanging on tall trees.

Bird specialist Dr Hem Sagar attributed declining bat population to noise pollution during the day time when bats sleep and rest. “Besides the loss of habitat, death due to electrocution has also emerged as a major cause of decline in bat population,” he said, adding, “Decreasing fruit farms in the Valley has also made survival of bats difficult.”

He warned if the trend continued and conversation efforts were not taken soon, bats would become extinct from the Valley.

Conservation of bats is not taken seriously in Nepal as the government has not listed it as a protected species.

A version of this article appears in print on August 11, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.

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