Region ‘goes in to bat’

Region ‘goes in to bat’

The region’s Southern Bent-wing Bat is being celebrated for its win against the dingo in this year’s Mammal of the Year Awards, yet human intervention is needed to ensure the continuation of the species. 

The Southern Bent-wing Bat is a placental mammal unique to the Limestone Coast and western Victoria regions.

Described as a microbat, the bat weighs just 15 grams and is up to 58 millimetres long. It consumes more than half its body weight in insects each night, mainly feeding on over 67 species of moths, many of which are agricultural pests.

The microbat forages in wetlands, native remnant vegetation and shelterbelts in farmland, as well as over cleared agricultural and grazing land. 

The Southern Bent-wing Bat is facing extinction within 50 years without significant human intervention.

Bat populations of 200,000 in the 1960’s have dwindled to under 40,000 most likely as a result of changes to foraging habitat and shelter. 

Limestone Coast Landscape Board General Manager Steve Bourne said any mammal extinction was devastating and none more so than for a unique endemic species.

“The Southern Bent-winged Bat was listed Critically Endangered as the population has dropped to less than 40,000 with the changes to foraging habitat and shelter,” he said.

“Clearance of native vegetation, wetland drainage and a drying climate with extreme weather events, disturbance and modifications of roosting caves and increased predation from pest animals places pressure on bat populations.”

Mr Bourne said the species was an obligate cave dweller, with only three maternity caves known to exist to bear and raise pups, whilst an additional 67 caves are known to be occupied for roosting particularly over the winter months.

“Pest weed species such as blackberry can block cave entrances and access to caves from stock and humans can severely disturb the bats,” he said. 

“By planting native shelterbelts, preserving and re-instating paddock trees, maintaining permanent water sources, controlling weeds and feral animals and controlling stock and human access to roosting caves on properties, our tiny bat can continue to play its role in the ecosystem and provide environmental services to our landscapes. We can all play our part to ensure we are celebrating the existence of our special bat in fifty years’ time.” 

The Limestone Coast Landscape Board has funded Nature Glenelg Trust to audit current Southern Bent-wing Bat caves.

The LC Landscape Board also offers bush management and wetland restoration support.

Talk to an officer on 8429 7550 or visit www.landscape.sa.gov.au/lc for more information. 

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