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QFW: BATLINE: Why are the British so batty about bats?

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  • Cynthia Myers
    Forwarding a nice bat article from the UK, which was posted to another bat group - Cynthia Myers San Diego CA www.BatRescue.org www.BatWorld.org
    Message 1 of 2 , Oct 5, 2007
    • 0 Attachment
      QFW: BATLINE: Why are the British so batty about bats?

      Forwarding a nice bat article from the UK, which was posted to another bat group -

      Cynthia Myers

      San Diego CA

      www.BatRescue.org

      www.BatWorld.org

      http://home.earthlink.net/~cmsquare

       

      -----Original Message-----
      Subject: BATLINE: Why are the British so batty about bats?

      The following text taken from

      http://environment.independent.co.uk/nature/article3028715.ece  in its

      entirety just in case they remove/change it...

       

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      To many of us they are the stuff of vampire-filled nightmares. And yet

      thousands of Britons have volunteered to protect them.

      By Jonathan Brown

      Published: 05 October 2007

       

      Bats have had more than their fair share of detractors over the years. Bram

      Stoker didn't do much for the PR effort when he sealed their gruesome place

      in popular folklore in Dracula – irreversibly fuelling man's nascent horror

      at the prospect of one swooping into one's hair on a summer's evening.

       

      So it was perhaps unsurprising that the announcement this week that The

      Heritage Lottery Fund was to donate nearly £600,000 to promote bat awareness

      in Britain reopened some of the old passions surrounding these interesting

      mammals.

       

      Despite the horror film myths, Britain has the most comprehensive network of

      bat volunteers in the world. The world's only flying mammal commands a

      fierce loyalty and commitment unrivalled among devotees of often more cuddly

      species.

       

      And they are in no doubt as to where the blame for bats' bad press lays.

      "Among the general public there is a hesitancy based on misconceptions and

      misunderstandings," said Jamie Eastham of the Bat Conservation Trust. "They

      are creatures of the night and people don't get to see them that often. When

      they do it is likely to be in a film where they are coming to suck your

      blood or turn into vampires."

       

      In fact, bats were only grafted on to the much older European vampire

      tradition relatively late in life, largely thanks to Stoker's classic

      published in 1890.

       

      Indeed the German Expressionists preferred rats to bats when they bought the

      blood sucker to the cinema in Nosferartu three decades later although Bela

      Lugosi revived the bat as bad guy to enduring and detrimental affect a few

      years later with his definitive big screen Dracula.

       

      Yet ignorance still exists. In 1981, when bats were finally afforded the

      long sought after legal protection, bat-hater Auberon Waugh wrote: "I do not

      suppose there are more than a couple of hundred people (who) could give a

      hoot if every bat in the kingdom dropped down dead. I, for one, would

      rejoice."

       

      It is the kind of attitude that is dying out, albeit slowly, say bat lovers.

      But the creatures continue to be tormented. Most often the culprits are

      builders, responsible for two-thirds of the 170 incidents recorded in the

      last three years.

       

      Each of the cases is rigorously investigated by the Bat Conservation Trust

      and its volunteers, yet out of these only five successful prosecutions have

      been brought. Despite a maximum sentence of six months imprisonment and a

      potential £5,000 penalty, courts have ordered transgressors of wildlife and

      habitat laws protecting bats to pay just £3,400 in fines.

       

      Bat numbers declined dramatically over the 20th century, due mainly to

      habitat destruction and the loss of ancient woodland and old buildings.

       

      Wildlife groups point out that bats cause little or no damage to homes when

      they take up residence. Able to eat up to 3,000 insects a night, they also

      act as extremely effective pest controllers.

       

      Volunteers working for Natural England are more than willing to advise on

      what you should do if you have bats. It was not always thus. Natural history

      records describe swarms of pippistrelles, the most common bat of Britain's

      17 resident species, swarming around the dome of St Paul's. Horseshoe bats

      were once a common site in London parks though now can only be found in the

      South-west.

       

      Partly because of decline and partly because of their nocturnal hunting

      patterns, encounters with bats have become increasingly rare in the modern

      world. The best way to see one is to take part in one of the many bat walks

      organised each month.

       

      Nick Tomlinson, a bat volunteer from Weymouth in Dorset, says there is a

      strong bond among bat lovers. "We are all slightly mad and we get a great

      rapport going when we meet up for bat box inspections."

       

      "They are the most amazing creatures. They are beautiful to look at and it

      is amazing to think we cannot hear them or see them unless we have a bat

      detector. Yet if we walk down a country lane they are all around us," said

      Mr Tomlinson.

       

      Though most commonly thought of as some kind of flying mouse, bats it seems,

      are more closely related to man. A bat's wing is similar to the human hand,

      with skin stretched over the bones to create a unique wing unlike any bird.

      They can live for up to 40 years and give birth to just a single offspring

      each year.

       

      Their echo-location system, which allows them to swoop with pin point

      accuracy into the clouds of insects that swarm around humans at dusk,

      remains a wonder of the natural world. They have also been here for a very

      long time.

       

      Mr Tomlinson said: "Possibly, they once flew around the heads of dinosaurs

      which is a mind-blowing thought. Even people who say they don't like bats,

      when we take them out to meet them they stand there with grins that if they

      got any bigger would split their heads in two. It is a fantastic way to make

      people realise there is nothing to be afraid of."

       

      The Heritage Lottery Fund money will enable some 5,000 volunteers to work

      with people who normally have no access to wildlife. A four-year project

      called England Bat Count, will train volunteers how to identify bats – often

      a difficult task when they fly at high speed through dusk.

       

      But establishing exact figures on the UK population is difficult. Philip

      Briggs, of the National Bat Monitoring Programme estimates there are three

      million of the most common type of UK bat, though much of the rest is guess

      work.

       

      "We don't really know how many we have lost and are forced to rely on

      anecdotal evidence. A few species seem to be picking up but there is still a

      lot of ignorance based on superstition associated with horror and

      witchcraft," he said.

       

      Bat box

       

      * Bats are the only mammals in the world that are naturally capable of

      flight.

       

      * Some species are cannibalistic; the Spectral and the Ghost Bat both feed

      on other bats.

       

      * With about 1,100 species of bat, there are so many varieties they make up

      20 per cent of all mammal species.

       

      * The bat is sacred in West Africa and Tonga, where it is considered a

      physical manifestation of a separable soul.

       

      * Females usually only give birth to one offspring a year, but mothers

      gather their young together in 'nursery roosts'.

       

      * Only 0.5 per cent of bats carry the rabies disease.

       

       


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      Batline@...

      http://www.basicallybats.org/mailman/listinfo/batline


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    • Cynthia Myers
      Forwarding a nice bat article from the UK, which was posted to another bat group - Cynthia Myers San Diego CA www.BatRescue.org www.BatWorld.org
      Message 2 of 2 , Oct 5, 2007
      • 0 Attachment
        QFW: BATLINE: Why are the British so batty about bats?

        Forwarding a nice bat article from the UK, which was posted to another bat group -

        Cynthia Myers

        San Diego CA

        www.BatRescue.org

        www.BatWorld.org

        http://home.earthlink.net/~cmsquare

         

        -----Original Message-----
        Subject: BATLINE: Why are the British so batty about bats?

        The following text taken from

        http://environment.independent.co.uk/nature/article3028715.ece  in its

        entirety just in case they remove/change it...

         

        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

        To many of us they are the stuff of vampire-filled nightmares. And yet

        thousands of Britons have volunteered to protect them.

        By Jonathan Brown

        Published: 05 October 2007

         

        Bats have had more than their fair share of detractors over the years. Bram

        Stoker didn't do much for the PR effort when he sealed their gruesome place

        in popular folklore in Dracula – irreversibly fuelling man's nascent horror

        at the prospect of one swooping into one's hair on a summer's evening.

         

        So it was perhaps unsurprising that the announcement this week that The

        Heritage Lottery Fund was to donate nearly £600,000 to promote bat awareness

        in Britain reopened some of the old passions surrounding these interesting

        mammals.

         

        Despite the horror film myths, Britain has the most comprehensive network of

        bat volunteers in the world. The world's only flying mammal commands a

        fierce loyalty and commitment unrivalled among devotees of often more cuddly

        species.

         

        And they are in no doubt as to where the blame for bats' bad press lays.

        "Among the general public there is a hesitancy based on misconceptions and

        misunderstandings," said Jamie Eastham of the Bat Conservation Trust. "They

        are creatures of the night and people don't get to see them that often. When

        they do it is likely to be in a film where they are coming to suck your

        blood or turn into vampires."

         

        In fact, bats were only grafted on to the much older European vampire

        tradition relatively late in life, largely thanks to Stoker's classic

        published in 1890.

         

        Indeed the German Expressionists preferred rats to bats when they bought the

        blood sucker to the cinema in Nosferartu three decades later although Bela

        Lugosi revived the bat as bad guy to enduring and detrimental affect a few

        years later with his definitive big screen Dracula.

         

        Yet ignorance still exists. In 1981, when bats were finally afforded the

        long sought after legal protection, bat-hater Auberon Waugh wrote: "I do not

        suppose there are more than a couple of hundred people (who) could give a

        hoot if every bat in the kingdom dropped down dead. I, for one, would

        rejoice."

         

        It is the kind of attitude that is dying out, albeit slowly, say bat lovers.

        But the creatures continue to be tormented. Most often the culprits are

        builders, responsible for two-thirds of the 170 incidents recorded in the

        last three years.

         

        Each of the cases is rigorously investigated by the Bat Conservation Trust

        and its volunteers, yet out of these only five successful prosecutions have

        been brought. Despite a maximum sentence of six months imprisonment and a

        potential £5,000 penalty, courts have ordered transgressors of wildlife and

        habitat laws protecting bats to pay just £3,400 in fines.

         

        Bat numbers declined dramatically over the 20th century, due mainly to

        habitat destruction and the loss of ancient woodland and old buildings.

         

        Wildlife groups point out that bats cause little or no damage to homes when

        they take up residence. Able to eat up to 3,000 insects a night, they also

        act as extremely effective pest controllers.

         

        Volunteers working for Natural England are more than willing to advise on

        what you should do if you have bats. It was not always thus. Natural history

        records describe swarms of pippistrelles, the most common bat of Britain's

        17 resident species, swarming around the dome of St Paul's. Horseshoe bats

        were once a common site in London parks though now can only be found in the

        South-west.

         

        Partly because of decline and partly because of their nocturnal hunting

        patterns, encounters with bats have become increasingly rare in the modern

        world. The best way to see one is to take part in one of the many bat walks

        organised each month.

         

        Nick Tomlinson, a bat volunteer from Weymouth in Dorset, says there is a

        strong bond among bat lovers. "We are all slightly mad and we get a great

        rapport going when we meet up for bat box inspections."

         

        "They are the most amazing creatures. They are beautiful to look at and it

        is amazing to think we cannot hear them or see them unless we have a bat

        detector. Yet if we walk down a country lane they are all around us," said

        Mr Tomlinson.

         

        Though most commonly thought of as some kind of flying mouse, bats it seems,

        are more closely related to man. A bat's wing is similar to the human hand,

        with skin stretched over the bones to create a unique wing unlike any bird.

        They can live for up to 40 years and give birth to just a single offspring

        each year.

         

        Their echo-location system, which allows them to swoop with pin point

        accuracy into the clouds of insects that swarm around humans at dusk,

        remains a wonder of the natural world. They have also been here for a very

        long time.

         

        Mr Tomlinson said: "Possibly, they once flew around the heads of dinosaurs

        which is a mind-blowing thought. Even people who say they don't like bats,

        when we take them out to meet them they stand there with grins that if they

        got any bigger would split their heads in two. It is a fantastic way to make

        people realise there is nothing to be afraid of."

         

        The Heritage Lottery Fund money will enable some 5,000 volunteers to work

        with people who normally have no access to wildlife. A four-year project

        called England Bat Count, will train volunteers how to identify bats – often

        a difficult task when they fly at high speed through dusk.

         

        But establishing exact figures on the UK population is difficult. Philip

        Briggs, of the National Bat Monitoring Programme estimates there are three

        million of the most common type of UK bat, though much of the rest is guess

        work.

         

        "We don't really know how many we have lost and are forced to rely on

        anecdotal evidence. A few species seem to be picking up but there is still a

        lot of ignorance based on superstition associated with horror and

        witchcraft," he said.

         

        Bat box

         

        * Bats are the only mammals in the world that are naturally capable of

        flight.

         

        * Some species are cannibalistic; the Spectral and the Ghost Bat both feed

        on other bats.

         

        * With about 1,100 species of bat, there are so many varieties they make up

        20 per cent of all mammal species.

         

        * The bat is sacred in West Africa and Tonga, where it is considered a

        physical manifestation of a separable soul.

         

        * Females usually only give birth to one offspring a year, but mothers

        gather their young together in 'nursery roosts'.

         

        * Only 0.5 per cent of bats carry the rabies disease.

         

         


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