Roost and habitat protection for short-tailed roundleaf bats in Nigeria

Iroro Tanshi

Previously thought to occur only in Cameroon and Bioko (an island in Equatorial Guinea), the short-tailed roundleaf bat (Hipposideros curtus) was recently discovered in Nigeria by our team in 2016. As all previously known roosts have been destroyed or have unknown statuses, the single roosting population discovered in Nigeria is the last known confirmed population of this species. Unfortunately, this dire situation is further compounded by cave roost disturbance by fruit bat hunters. With naturally small populations (12-15 individuals) and a declining population trend across a restricted range, this species is in grave danger of becoming extinct, raising the need for urgent action.

This project aims to rescue H. curtus from the brink of extinction by protecting the last known roost, reducing threats from cave disturbance, and setting up long-term cave roost monitoring. To achieve these objectives, we will use an innovative socio-ecological approach involving the examination of behavioural drivers of fruit bat hunting (which leads to cave disturbance); the identification of additional roosts across localities by tracking GPS-tagged bats; the initiation of long-term roost monitoring; and raising awareness of threats to the species among local communities.