The University of Liverpool’s Ness Botanic Gardens is supporting European-wide efforts to conserve bat populations in their natural habitats.
Bat populations across Europe have severely decreased in the last century due to large-scale habitat loss, which has led to the extinction of some species. Ness will host an evening of lectures and tours of the garden as part of the European Bat Weekend, which aims to increase public awareness of how to preserve the endangered species and prevent further destruction of their environment.
Lawrence Armstrong, conservationist and member of the Merseyside and West Lancashire Bat Group, said: “Attitudes toward the bat have varied over time due to different cultural associations. Throughout history they have been linked with dragons, witches and most infamously of all, vampires. In reality, however, they are gentle creatures whose own survival is under threat from the impact human activity has on their habitat.
“They have existed for millions of years and there are over 1,000 different species in the world. Bats are considered a natural pesticide, as they eat a large amount of insects, including mosquitoes, moths and beetles and help keep populations at a manageable level, particularly during the summer months when insects thrive.
“Bat populations have recently come under threat from a disease called White Nose Syndrome – caused by a fungus that thrives in the cold and humid conditions of the caves used by bats. The fungus affects their muzzle and wings and spreads rapidly through a population. Bats that have the disease show unusual behavioural patterns, such as flying outside during the day in cold weather. It is essential that more people learn about the bat and its importance to our ecosystem so that we can support its continued survival.”
In line with international legislation agreed by 30 European states, all bat species identified in Europe are protected by conservation regulations. Public awareness of the threat to bat populations is now more actively promoted by increasing numbers of independent bat groups and organisations.
Bat Walk, Talk and Evening Meal will be held at Ness Botanic Gardens on Saturday, 29 August 2009. Tickets must be booked in advance.