The project is for mine and Amelia’s masters projects, working in collaboration with African Bat Conservation ( http://africanbatconservation.org/ ), we will investigate the impact of humane roost exclusion on bat roosting and foraging behaviour. In Lilongwe, the capital city of Malawi where their study is based, conflict between bats and humans is high. Many bats roost in buildings within the city and this causes conflict. When humans and bats come into conflict, inhumane methods of control such as fumigation (which is used in Malawi) can result in mass mortality of whole colonies. Despite human-bat conflict being a widespread and increasing issue, very few studies have attempted to evaluate the effectiveness of bat mitigation measures and much of the current advice is based on anecdotal evidence. Solutions to these conflicts are hindered by a lack of research into species roosting preferences and suitable mitigation techniques. Results will inform bat conservation and management strategies.
Despite humane exclusion being viewed as preferable to extermination, roost exclusions can be highly stressful and may have long-term implications on survival and reproduction. The bats may struggle to find suitable alternative roosts post-exclusion and be forced to sub-optimal roosts. Despite the wide use of humane roost exclusion, only three studies globally have investigated its impact on bats, none of which were in Africa. of the studies that has addressed the issue is Dr. Emma Stones study on soprano pipistrelles here in the UK https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article/authors?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0131825 and our study follows the same methodology. Emma is also Founder / Director of ABC and one of our supervisors.
I got to catch up with Emma last month at the BCT East of England Bat Conference where she was talking about bats in Malawi, the ABC research being done and some of the different challenges faced. This month I did our Notts Bat Group update at the BCT Midlands Bat Conference which myself and several NBG members attended. We had our stand there also! Matt was presenting on the Notts Barbastelle Project and Barry and Ian were presenting on their church conflict project at Tattershall Church as part of BCTs Bats and Churches Project.