A new range of accommodation units was unveiled last week, as part of Letaba Rest Camp's ongoing Bat House Research Project. The new structures, erected in pre-appointed positions throughout camp, were designed by field guide Ian Pollard who has been involved in the project from its conception. They will house bats currently roosting in guest accommodation and other park buildings.
Following the successful installation and monitoring of two bat houses last year, which supported their use as part of a viable and ecological bat control programme, ten further structures have now been put in place by Letaba's general workers.
As well as providing a practical alternative to exclusion or chemical eradication control methods, the structures will also generate knowledge of bat roosting and could provide a basis for similar projects in other locations.
"We are using a range of different sizes, designs and colours (as the external colour effects the ambient temperature within the house) and are positioning them at different heights, with different amounts of sun exposure, in order to test which are most attractive to the bats," says project co-ordinator, Pollard, "hopefully, we will be able to help clarify the most effective way to safely, ecologically and economically remove bats from manmade structures within Kruger."
Staff are now checking the new bat houses daily, noting the species and number of bats which appear to be using each of the different sites and the speed with which they move in. Once the bats have become familiar with the new structures, any current roosting sites within guest accommodation will be sealed up, forcing the bats to move into their new homes.
This ongoing conservation project, which protects the wide variety of bats found at Letaba while ensuring guests enjoy quality accommodation, is supported by the Honorary Rangers (Bushveld Region) who generously provided the materials and manpower to construct all the houses.
By Anna Faherty