Media & Education
Volume 36, Issue 1, 2017
How research can shine a light on the economic and cultural value of bats
Sheherazade Jayadi is a Master of Science student studying Wildlife Ecology and Conservation at the University of Florida, Gainesville. Growing up on the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia, Jayadi saw the beneficial impacts of the island’s flying foxes on the economically and culturally important semi-wild durian plants. She recently received a Student Research Scholarship from BCI to further study this connection. We had the chance to sit down with Jayadi to learn more about her work.
Bats: What do you hope to find with your research?
Jayadi: I really hope that I can make a positive impact in terms of helping people become aware of the existence of the flying foxes. People in Sulawesi who live near a colony of flying foxes can see them every sunset or sunrise when they depart or return to their colony. I want people to see these bats and remember that they help maintain the forest and supply people with their favorite durian fruits. I also want the people of Sulawesi to realize the importance of these bats to deter them from hunting them for bushmeat or disturbing their colonies.
Bats: What is it like working with bats in the field?
Jayadi: It is fun but also challenging. As a woman that works in the field and must go out in the middle of the night—it is sometimes strange. I get a lot of questions from local people that see me in the middle of the night and ask “What are you doing!?” A little girl in the middle of the forest, in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere, in the darkness, waiting for a bat? It was fun trying to explain research to them and how the research is important for the bats and for the local people.
Bats: What is next?
Jayadi: My research will be very significant in terms of providing much needed information about the bat ecology in Sulawesi—so I especially want to use and apply these results in conservation programs for flying foxes because in Sulawesi they are hunted as bushmeat and there are no significant conservation programs to try to reduce this hunting. I want my results to be used in conservation and outreach programs.
Bats: What is your advice to give to people who are interested in bats?
Jayadi: My advice is—you’re not alone. Especially in Indonesia where bat researchers are very few. You should realize that there is a community in the world that is active, like BCI, who are there to help you, in capacity building and in funding research. So, if you’re interested in bats—there is always a way to conduct research that interests you and helps bats.
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