Bat­ty o­ver poop

Knysna-Plett Herald - - Green Matters - S­te­fan Goo­sen

If you are seeing bats in your a­rea w­he­re t­hey ha­ve ne­ver been be­fo­re, t­his is for re­al.

Fruit bats ha­ve been seen e­ven by tho­se who li­ve in the Knys­na CBD.

Not e­ver­y­bo­dy wel­co­mes the­se fruit bats, as one re­si­dent said a­no­ny­mous­ly on the KPH web­si­te, af­ter no­ti­cing the gro­wing num­ber of hou­ses de­co­ra­ted in bat poop – or “gua­no” as it is kno­wn in s­cien­ti­fic ci­r­cles.

“T­his is be­co­ming a hu­ge and cos­t­ly pro­blem to ho­me­o­w­ners as the gua­no con­tains a­cid and e­ats a­way at the paint as well as ma­king an un­sig­ht­ly mess. Hou­ses are not the on­ly victim, but vehi­cles par­ked out­si­de are al­so af­fected,” the per­son com­ments, en­ding off by as­king if anyo­ne knows of a so­lu­ti­on to com­bat the pro­blem.

Ri­aan Bosch, o­w­ner of NPO Bees for Na­tu­re, is all too fa­mi­li­ar with the Egyp­ti­an fruit bat, and knows all too well how po­tent their gua­no can be.

“The un­for­tu­na­te ans­wer is that the­re is cur­rent­ly no pro­ven way to keep the­se bats from en­te­ring our a­rea or drop­ping their gua­no all o­ver. I ha­ve do­ne ex­ten­si­ve re­se­arch in­to the mat­ter and ho­pe to find a so­lu­ti­on soon,” he says.

The­se fruit bats are long-dis­tan­ce pol­li­na­tors, he says, me­a­ning t­hey do not stay in one a­rea for too long as t­hey go w­he­re sus­te­nan­ce is a­vai­la­ble – a s­lig­ht com­fort to tho­se pla­gued by the poop­drop­ping cre­a­tu­res. “T­hey tra­vel ex­tre­me­ly far dis­tan­ces in se­arch of food which is al­so qui­te ne­ces­sa­ry for our e­cosy­stem to sur­vi­ve. Sin­ce the fi­res de­stroy­ed much of their na­tu­ral ha­bi­tat t­hey are now co­ming in­to town to find food. Their sto­mach a­cid al­lows the pro­tecti­ve lay­er a­round seeds to be e­a­ten a­way and w­hen it is drop­ped, the seeds are a­ble to ger­mi­na­te,” ex­plains Bosch.

Cur­rent­ly the­se bats are af­ter the tiny fruits one finds on palm t­rees, but in a few mont­hs t­hey will mo­ve o­ver to sy­rin­ga and milk­wood t­rees, Bosch says, ad­ding that the w­ho­le We­stern Ca­pe is ex­pe­rien­cing the pro­blem at pre­sent.

“Pe­op­le must re­mem­ber we built in na­tu­re and now we ha­ve to be pa­tient and de­al with it.”

The­se tips mig­ht help:

As o­wls are their na­tu­ral e­ne­my, Bosch sug­ge­sts e­recting an owl box in your gar­den – so­mething he can de­fi­ni­te­ly help with.

C­le­an the gua­no off your vehi­cle as soon as you no­ti­ce it. “On­ce it has dried it is too la­te,” says Bosch.

Do not put out poi­son as t­his will ha­ve a much wi­der ef­fect than just kil­ling off the bats. Fruit bats nest in t­rees, not in hou­ses.

A brig­ht lig­ht shi­ning on­to t­rees fa­vou­red by the bats mig­ht help.

Keep your vehi­cle in the ga­ra­ge or co­ver it with a sheet or sail.

W­hat ma­kes t­hings e­ven trickier, Bosch says, is that the ha­bits and li­ves of ot­her cre­a­tu­res need to be con­si­de­red w­hen it co­mes to fin­ding a wor­ka­ble so­lu­ti­on. He is cur­rent­ly a­wai­ting a de­vi­ce from the US that has been pro­ven to sca­re a­way in­sect-e­a­ting bats, which he is plan­ning to try out on their fruit-e­a­ting coun­ter­parts.

“If anyo­ne does no­ti­ce a nes­ting si­te ne­ar their ho­me, I ask that t­hey con­tact me im­me­di­a­te­ly. It would be very in­te­res­ting to see and I would li­ke to co­me ex­pe­ri­ment with w­hat mig­ht work on the­se bats. For now though, pe­op­le must be pa­tient and re­mem­ber that the­se bats will le­a­ve on­ce the food sour­ce has been de­ple­ted,” he says.

* For mo­re in­for­ma­ti­on or to find out a­bout the owl boxes, con­tact Bosch on 082 298 5847.

Newspapers in Afrikaans

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.