Bats make up a quarter of the mammalian diversity on the planet. The African continent and Madagascar and its associated islands contain about 258 extant species of bats, which comprises about 25% of the global bat diversity. Bats are an important component in ecosystem health and condition. They occupy a critical niche, the insectivorous species being primary nocturnal predators and are susceptible to increased levels of pesticides, while frugivorous species are critical for forest regeneration. Many plants are dependent on these night time visitors (e.g. Baobab), for both pollination and seed dispersal. Both groups of bats are also greatly susceptible to environmental change. The effects of habitat and climate change on these species are unknown, and if so, there is much speculation as to the impacts, both positive and negative. These impacts on bats have a direct impact on food security and human related zoonotic diseases. What is of primary concern is that we know very little about the distribution, abundance or the biology of the various species. Also from a cultural perspective, bats are perceived by most African cultures as associated with dark and evil magic, and are persecuted.
With some of the above reasons in mind, the open access quarterly journal African Bat Conservation News (ISSN 1812-1268) was established in July 2004, with the aim to create a forum where observations, notes, ideas and discussions on conservation of bats can be voiced in a published format. In July 2006, the first issue of the African Chiroptera Report (ISSN 1990-6471) was released with annually updates (the 8th issue released August 2013). The aim of the African Chiroptera Report is to assemble all information on bats in Africa into a single annually updated open source reference document, which is an output from the African Chiroptera Project. As these ideas and issues have grown, it has become apparent that a more holistic approach to conservation of bats in Africa is needed, for which a coordinated strategy is developed.
Therefore, AfricanBats was registered as a Not-For-Profit company (2012/007836/08) on the 18 January 2012, which will investigate and pursue the conservation of bats in Africa.
To have a functioning, integrated programme for education, capacity building, research and management for the conservation of bat populations in Africa.
The conservation of African bats.
- Provide administrative and financial management support for research, conservation, education, awareness and capacity building.
- Develop networks to co-ordinate and enhance support for education, capacity building, and awareness, which improve the public understanding of bats, and skill competent people working to discover, collect and collate information appropriate for the conservation of African bats.
- Develop an enabling policy and legislative framework that integrates bat conservation in Africa.
- Develop and provide access to tools and resources.
- Identify and support conservation and research projects.