Cyprus Mail

Steep decline in fruit bat numbers

By Maria Gregoriou

BAT LOVERS invited to join a special bat-watching event to celebrate European Bat Night this Friday will be lucky if they encounter Cyprus’ only species of fruit bat.

Numbers of Cyprus’ indigenous fruit bat have decreased by a shocking 85 per cent over the last four years, according to the agriculture ministry.

“The main reason why the number of this type of bat has decreased is because agriculture has fallen off in recent years. As the bats do not find enough to eat, they move away to places like Turkey,” said Elena Erotokritou, an official from the environment department at the agriculture ministry.

Cyprus is the only country in the European Union to host fruit bats while its other 18 species of bats are all insect eaters.

The bat-watching event will be held at the Athalassas environmental centre on September 13 at 6pm. Bat detectors, or ultrasound machines, will be used for participants to listen to bats as they cannot be heard with the naked ear.

“Most countries have this event at the end of August but as August is a holiday month, we wanted to give the opportunity to as many people as possible to learn about bats,” Erotokritou said.

A presentation on bat detection will be given at the event.

The state environment department follows EU protocols for the protection of bats. “Some people thought and still do think that bats are bad and kill them,” she said.

“Bats are very good for the environment because they are a natural pesticide. One bat may eat over 3,000 insects a night.”

The endangered fruit bat also plays a key role.

“Fruit bats spit out pips and therefore contribute to the cultivation of more trees,” Erotokritou said.


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