One of BCI’s first projects involved Thailand. BCI Vice President, Verne Read, funded and participated in a trip to investigate the conservation needs of Thai bats.
The trip focused world attention on the value and plight of Thailand’s bats (see January, 1984 SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE), resulted in a royal decree to protect one of Thailand’s most important bat caves, and generated funding for Thailand’s first study of endangered bats.
The Animal Research and Conservation Center of the New York Zoological Society funded BCI’s subsequent proposal to support Surapon Duangkhae’s thesis study of the endangered Kitti’s Hog-nosed Bat (Craseonycteris thonglongyai), the world’s smallest mammal.
As a result of this study the Species Survival Service Commission of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources has placed the Kitti’s Hog-nosed Bat on its list of the world’s 12 most endangered animals, and Mr. Duangkhae is now a professional bat biologist and one of Thailand’s leading young conservationists.
Using 85 of Dr. Tuttle’s slides of Thai bats and other BCI information along with his own findings, Mr. Duangkhae already has published a variety of articles on bat values and conservation needs in major Thai magazines. He is now continuing his studies of endangered bats and assisting with conservation planning.
Such progress is vital to saving bats, and we thank Dr. Archie Carr III, Assistant Director, Animal Research and Conservation Center, Dr. Boonsong Lekagul, Thai representative of BCI’s Scientific Advisory Board, and Dr. Warren Brockelman, Mr. Duangkhae’s advisor at Mahidol University, for their invaluable assistance.
The Kitti’s Hog-nosed Bat (Craseonycteris thonglongyai), discovered in 1974, weighs a third less than a penny. This bat, the world’s smallest mammal, was soon extirpated from Sai Yok, a National Park created in its honor, by souvenir and museum collectors. Surapon Duangkhae recently surveyed surrounding cave habitat and documented the survival of 2,000 Kitti’s Hog-nosed Bats, all in a limited and vulnerable area without protection. Hopefully, he and Thai officials will be able to save them. Photo courtesy Merlin D. Tuttle