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    Survey to create awareness about bats

    THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: There were more than a hundred bats hanging heads down in a single rain tree on the Museum compound. The members of Writers and Nature Lovers’ Forum (WNLF) started the survey on Thursday morning and by evening, they found around 1,250 bats on 19 trees.The bat survey on zoo compound, jointly organised by WNLF and Directorate of Museums and Zoos, was inaugurated by Minister P K Jayalakshmi. “At a time when flats and buildings are replacing trees, natural habitats like these must be preserved. The Government will take steps for that. Equipment such as binoculars will be provided to research students studying zoo animals,” the Minister said.Apart from the zoo animals in captivity, bats and some birds come naturally to the compound, attracted by the greenery. Bats first found their home in the zoo back in 1990. Beginning with a single tree, bats now occupy 19 trees in the zoo. Apart from bats, ‘Cherakozhi’ (darter) and ‘Patirikozhi’ too are natural inhabitants of the zoo.WNLF organised the survey in order to spread awareness on bats and their environment. Around 20 members of WNLF participated in the survey. The zoo hosts several fruit bats, the largest among the group. The bats which feed on fruits help in seed dispersal. “In the morning, all bats were peacefully sleeping on the branches so that we could count without much effort. The event was originally planned last year, the International Year of Bats. But, somehow, it lagged.The programme is meant to clear superstitions around this mammal, which is very helpful in environmental conservation,” said M Naushad Ali, chief co-ordinator, WNLF.Zoo director K Udayavarman, Principal Forest Conservator R Rajarajavarma and WNLF president C Rahim, among others, participated in the survey.