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Juvenile curtus at cave entrance.JPG

Bats on the brink.

Short-tailed Roundleaf bat - our daring, community-led effort to save one of our planets most threatened bat

The rare, Endangered (A2c) Short-tailed Roundleaf bat is range-restricted with an estimated population of <1,500 individuals, making it one of the world’s most threatened bat species. It is dependent on old-growth, intact forest, and undisturbed caves. This small (7 g) African leaf-nosed bat occurs in naturally small populations, and forms colonies of no more than 10-15 individuals.

The Short-tailed Roundleaf bat is threatened by habitat loss and cave disturbance that are intensifying across its global range – Nigeria, Cameroon, and Equatorial Guinea including Bioko Island. In Nigeria, the primary threat to the species habitat is wildfires that originate on small-holder farms, when farmers deploy brush burns to manage weeds and condition soil ahead of the planting season. The species is threatened by cave disturbance from hunting of Africa’s only cave roosting fruit bat species for food. Our long-term intervention in Nigeria is identifying and conserving priority caves along with forest habitat. Forest protection effort is focused on wildfire prevention. Beyond Nigeria, we’re leading a range-wide effort to protect the species, through the Curtus Conservation Network that fosters collaboration between in-country experts who lead local action. Cross River National Park held the last globally known cave roost for the species until 2020, when a single disturbance event caused total roost abandonment. This was also the only known maternal colony of the species but is now tragically lost. Despite being a protected area with active ranger patrols, such significant disturbance events reinforce the urgency for targeted action. Other previously known caves have been lost or of unknown statuses.

Upland Horseshoe bat - susceptible to climate change and threatened by wildfires from pasture land, this high elevation specialist is between a  rock and a hard place.

 

In Nigeria, the species is known only from the Obudu Plateau, i.e., the Cross River National Park and Becheve Nature Reserve. Our acoustic monitoring suggests that there may be a small or vagrant population in Afi Mountain, this remains to be confirmed through hand captures. It is also suspected to occur in highland areas of the Gashaka Gumti National Park.

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