Bat Appreciation Month
Bats are representatives of mammals and the only species who are capable of true and sustained flight. Bats are one of the most widely distributed groups of mammals and they live in almost every habitat on Earth.
There are certain conservation groups, such as the Bat Conservation International that aims to raise awareness of ecological roles and the environmental threats bats face. The protection of bats in Malaysia is regulated by the Wildlife Protection Ordinance, but certain species are consumed by the local communities. The consumption of bats is a widespread practice in countries of Africa, Asia, and the Pacific Rim. Lately, the interest has been raised and attention has been drawn to the consumption of exotic species of animals to the world outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Approximately 17% of bat species or 56 species of bats are eaten in Southeast Asia. The Philippines and Indonesia have one of the highest levels of hunting despite legal protection under the Philippine Wildlife Act and Philippine Cave Management Act.1
Hunting bats for the purpose of human consumption also occurs in Bangladesh by indigenous groups. In 2017, according to the survey it was found that bats were hunted in 49% of villages, and the majority of hunters had the purpose to use bats for food and medicine, among which 30% were used for food and 17% for medicine. While eating bats is not common in India and Pakistan, the studies show that bats are hunted in those countries for medical purposes, yet bat meat is popular in certain regions of India, such as the Northeast, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
China has drawn a lot of attention from the globe due to the COVID-19 outbreak that first occurred in one of the cities. However, consuming bats is not a widespread practice in the country. Bats sometimes are eaten in the southern part of China, such species as the cave nectar bat, Pomona roundleaf bat, Indian flying fox, and Leschenault’s rousette. International associations called China to ban hunting and sale of bats and bat meat. In January 2020, all wildlife trade in China has been banned in response to the pandemic.2
In 2020, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) evaluated the conservation status of bats, the number of whom is currently 1304. At the present time, there are 1.7% critically endangered species, 6% endangered species, 8.2% vulnerable species, 6.7% near-threatened species, 58.1% least concern species, 18.7% data deficient species, and 0.6% extinct species of bats.
Every animal plays an essential role in the environment, including bats. Bats eat insects, feed on nectar, and provide critical pollination for various plants. They play a vital role in dispersing seeds, pest control, and pollinating plants. Thus, bats need attention, legal protection, and consideration from the public.
1 See our blog for more information about the protection of animals in the Philippines here.
2 See our blog for more information about the protection of animals in China here.