From Malaysia to Venezuela, Bat Conservation International’s grassroots grants help support bats around the world.                    

Scientist weighing a bat
Scientist weighing a bat Credit: Cory Toth

From Malaysia to Venezuela, Bat Conservation International’s grassroots grants help support bats around the world.

Since 1998, BCI has awarded more than $1,000,000 in scholarships and small grants to more than 200 aspiring bat conservation leaders for projects in 40+ countries. Our grassroots grants support the work of exceptionally talented students and professionals. These awards of $1,000 to $5,000 provide opportunities for further funding by attracting matching grants from other funding sources.

BCI grants especially encourage research and conservation projects to address the lack of basic knowledge for some species about their ecology, distribution and behavior. BCI is proud to announce the five projects selected for 2015 Grassroots Grant funding.

1.     Project Pteropus: Interactions between flying foxes, plants, and people on Tioman Island – Implications for conservation– Sheema Abdul Aziz, Rimba Research, Malaysia.

Flying foxes (Pteropus spp.) are under severe threat in Peninsular Malaysia due to hunting for food and medicine, and extermination as agricultural pests. As they are not charismatic species, there is little motivation to conserve and protect them. In order to facilitate efforts to improve their protection locally, there is an urgent need to gather quantitative evidence of their role as ecosystem service providers (e.g. pollination and seed dispersal) and to canvass human attitudes towards them. This project aims to quantify the interactions between Pteropus hypomelanus, plants and people on a Malaysian offshore island called Tioman, which holds the last remaining permanent roosts of this locally threatened species.


2.     Steps forward in the conservation of the Curaçaoan Long-nosed bat (Leptonycteris curasoae) in Venezuela– Dr. Jafet Nassar, Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Research, Venezuela.

The conservation strategy for the Curaçaoan long-nosed bat identifies two key actions for the species in Venezuela: (1) provide additional evidence of the long-distance movements and migratory potential of the species within the territory and beyond its limits, and (2) protect of the main caves used by L. curasoae as diurnal refuges and maternity roosts. This project aims to implement these conservation goals and expand an ongoing population genetics study to examine levels of population structure across the entire range of distribution of the species in Venezuela


3.     A national assessment of the endemic and critically endangered Hill's Horseshoe Bat Rhinolophus hilli– Dr. Paul Webala, Maasai Mara University, Kenya.

The Hill’s horseshoe bat is a critically endangered species only known to occur from two records at two sites within the Nyungwe Forest Reserve in Rwanda. The species is believed to be in drastic decline due to a marked reduction in the extent and quality of its forest habitat. Yet, the scientific community lacks vital fundamental knowledge about the species, such as its population size, and ecology. This project will locate extant roost sites, record its acoustic call signature and develop site-conservation recommendations to safeguard the species’ future. Project personnel will also reach out to the local communities with bat education programs.


4.     Human-wildlife conflict mitigation in Malawi – establishing a national bat helpline and roost monitoring programmeDr. Emma Stone, African Bat Conservation / University of Bristol, United Kingdom.

Despite the ecological and economic importance of bats, almost a quarter of species globally are threatened with some species going extinct. Malawi is important for bat conservation in Africa due to high endemism and species diversity (>64 bat species). However, bats are not protected in Malawi and are at risk from habitat destruction. They also suffer from a negative public perception, being feared, misunderstood and actively persecuted. African Bat Conservation (ABC) is conserving bats and their roosts in Malawi through research, conservation and education. ABC receives calls (> 150 since Feb 2014) from people experiencing conflict, such as bats occupying houses or eating crops. Currently pest control agents exterminate bats and their roosts. ABC aims to establish a bat helpline service to provide free advice and mitigation to communities to promote coexistence between bats and people, monitor bat populations and conserve roosts.


5.     Ecology and Conservation of Guadalcanal's monkey-faced bats– Dr. Tyrone Lavery, The University of Queensland, Australia.

The genus Pteralopex (monkey-faced bats) is endemic to the Solomon Islands. All five known species in the genus are either Endangered or Critically Endangered (IUCN RedList). There is virtually no information on ecology or conservation needs of most Pteralopex. Our work has shown the ecology and habitat requirements of P.taki make it vulnerable to extinction. Our project will focus on two species on Guadalcanal, the endangered Guadalcanal monkey-faced bat, P. atrata, and the critically endangered Montane Monkey-faced Bat, P. pulchra.

The first step in protecting these species is to confirm where surviving populations exist. Where we can confirm the existence of these species, we will identify environmental characteristics and track individuals to determine habitat requirements. These are critical steps for their long-term conservation.