Transboundary conservation of horseshoe bats in the Romanian-Serbian Iron Gates

Szilárd-Lehel Bücs

All five European horseshoe bat species are threatened by multiple factors (including direct roost disturbance) and have decreasing populations (IUCN, 2016). Méhely's horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus mehelyi) is still vulnerable (Alcaldé et al. 2016). Recent data indicates the transboundary nature of horseshoe bat populations and bats seasonally migrating between Romania and Serbia in the Iron Gates region. Despite being a sub-mediterranean biodiversity hotspot, there is a complete lack of bat conservation measures here. Our project targets five major protected areas in the Iron Gates region: four in Romania, one in Serbia. We aim to create the primary elements for the transboundary conservation of horseshoe bat populations in the Iron Gates region, by (1) convincing protected areas about the need for transboundary conservation measures, (2) reducing direct disturbance at 15 key roost sites through concrete conservation measures, and (3) driving a positive change in the attitude of protected area visitors towards horseshoe bats and bat conservation. The project uses universal bat research and monitoring methods, combined with literature-based conservation measures. Public outreach will use interactive bat-themed elements installed at visitor centres in protected areas. An international team with expertise in multiple domains will implement the project.

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