Conservation status of bats in and around Mt. Saramati, Nagaland, India
National Centre For Biological Sciences
D. Pilot D
Introduction: What conservation problem or question does your study address?
Nagaland faces intense hunting pressure and habitat degradation. Every year thousands of bats are hunted for consumption during mid-October by one clan called Bomrr in villages near Mt. Saramati. This may have led to a considerable population decline. There have been no reliable surveys of bat species in the region, and no documentation of biodiversity loss and conservation plans. Hunting also increases risk of disease transmission
Methods: What were the main research methods you used?
Method1:Identifying species that are more prone to hunting. We surveyed the area to identify all possible resident species using morphology keys as well as molecular methods .We captured and sampled bats using mist nets and the one killed by the hunters. Non lethal wing biopsy were taken from each bat for molecular taxonomy.Method 2: Assessing fluctuations and health of hunted population were done base on interview survey and using molecular methods. Method 3:Collect samples for screening of rabies in the hunted bats and find the proportion of bats with rabies virus. We opportunistically collected whole brain samples from dead bats killed by the hunters to test for rabies.Method 4:Conduct awareness programs about the importance of bats/wildlife and help the local community improve their knowledge about diseases from bats or other wildlife to human.
Results: What are your most important results?
From our species survey we could find some species which are not reported in the region. Besides, from the interviews and the village written record of the bat harvest we could also find a drastic decline in the bats population. We have screened 50 samples for rabies using Immuno-fluorescence test and 3 samples showed doubtful results.
Discussion: What are your important discussion points and what is the relevance of your results to conservation (if any)?
Knowing species composition in Mt. Saramati may give us insight to take up better conservation management plans. Population fluctuations of bats can further be used to model future trends in the population, if hunting pressures were to persist. Hunting bats has traditional importance for Bomrr clan. This is hard to stop completely, but it can be minimized with conservation awareness and helping them to understand the issue of zoonotic diseases that may spread.