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Bat Conservation Africa Launches a New Chapter in Guinea

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Bat Conservation Africa Launches a New Chapter in Guinea

Published on February 2, 2016

BCA Guinea launching ceremony
Participants at the BCA Guinea launching ceremony
Credit: Mamady Kobélé Keita

On December 8, 2015, Bat Conservation Africa (BCA) strengthened its network and outreach by launching a new chapter in the Republic of Guinea. The network expansion will serve as a collaborative effort to protect endangered bats and their disappearing habitats on African soil.

In total, 16 institutions were represented at the launching ceremony, including the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Mamady Kobélé Keita, organizer of this key milestone shared that, "In the context of Ebola crisis, it was not easy to convene people at a meeting to discuss bat conservation given that bats are considered by some people as being responsible for the decease.” He was pleasantly surprised to discover that some people were already working with bats and that this launching ceremony was proving to be an opportunity for people to share their insights a broader group.

During the ceremony, several presentations were made by some of BCA’s key players. From UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere Program, Mamadou Diakité educated listeners on the importance of bats and their role in the ecosystem. Muhammad Yaya Diallo from Guinée Ecologie, led a critical discussion on the impact of Ebola and forest defragmentation within the region. And Souana Goumou, a representative from Guinée Ecologie, outlined the bat conservation initiatives being taken by Guinée Ecologie and other conservation partners.

After the presentations, the floor was open for questions. Many of these questions revolved around the importance of bats and their relation to the Ebola virus. Participants were divided into two groups in order to help ponder these inquiries and engineer possible solutions.

What came out of this launching of BCA-Guinea was more than ceremonial, it was a brainstorming activity developed a collection of new conservation strategies and ideas. It was thus agreed that the conservation actions identified by the collaborative group session would constitute the foundation of a future bat conservation action plan to be developed later by the chapter.

Bellingen Flyout
Straw-colored fruit bats (Eidolon helvum) are found across Africa
including in Guinea Credit:

The participants also examined BCA’s draft of launching the new chapter, and adopted it willingly, with some minor addendums—notably on the name of the chapter to remain in French, the number of people to be in the Steering Committee, etc.

Before leaving, representatives from all the organizations signed the Final Declaration, agreeing on the establishment of the BCA Guinea Chapter and expressing their committed effort to work toward the conservation of bats in Guinea. When asked, Kobélé shared that he “was impressed by the level of attendance and commitment from participants to engage in bat conservation.”

“BCI is grateful to Kobélé, and many others, for their successful efforts to organize a national movement in Guinea and begin champion bat conservation,” said Dave Waldien, Senior Director of Global Conservation at BCI. “The challenges facing bat conservation in Guinea and West Africa are great, especially following the Ebola tragedy, and it is only by coming together and sharing expertise and resources that we can make a difference.”

This initiative was made possible with support from the Disney Conservation Fund and BCI members.

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