Inventory of the bats of Cuc Phuong National Park

Ha Thang Long

This team from the University of Hanoi aim to conduct a baseline inventory of bats within the Cuc Phong National Park, Vietnam. The study aimed to assess the status and distribution of the bat fauna in order to increase biodiversity awareness and education, establish a grounding for further research, and contribute to the on-going conservation programme in the Park.

In order assess the effect of tourism on the bat population the project will also make a comparative analysis of two caves which were previously studied in 1996. Of the 35 species surveyed, two were IUCN List 1 status, three near threatened and two List 5. More importantly, one of the evening bats seen represents an undescribed taxon within the little known Thick-thumbed Pipistrelles - this represents a first for Vietnam and Indo-China as a whole. If further molecular and morphological data proves it to be taxonomically distinct then it will be only the third species of this strange and little known group of bats.

In an Asian context the survey as a whole indicates that Cuc Phong is a hot spot for bat biodiversity - there are 25% more bat species in the one park than in the whole of Sri Lanka - about 5% of all bat species. The expedition was therefore extremely successful in that it did the basic survey work needed to prove this and increase the conservation status of the park on a Vietnam and world wide scale. Further work planned includes the possibility of publications to highlight the park as a biodiversity hotspot, further field research and transferring the data to a format where it will be available for future conservation managers to make assessments of conservation.