A bat survey conducted in the Munnar Wildlife Division has found seven new species for the first time.
The survey, conducted in two phases in the protected area in April, could spot 20 species belonging to six families including 11 species in general categories. These include 17 insectivorous bats and three fruit bats.
Hipposideros galeritus (Cantor's Leaf-nosed bat), Hipposideros pomona (Anderson's Leaf-nosed bat), Myotis peytoni (Peyton's Whiskered Myotis) and Harpiocephalus harpia (Lesser Hairy-winged bat) were some of the rare bats identified during the survey.
The survey was conducted using advanced bat monitoring and detecting devices, besides traditional methods. Insectivorous bats were identified based on their unique echolocation calls. The devices were installed in various locations inside the Eravikulam, Mathikettan Shola, Anamudi Shola, Pampadum Shola national parks and Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary.
The survey also highlighted the need for long-term monitoring of bats to understand the impact of climate and vegetation changes on bats and other wildlife in Munnar landscape, said Munnar Wildlife Warden R. Lakshmi. This was the first bat survey in Munnar and it underscored the need for protection of the biodiversity, she said.
M.K. Sameer, P.M. Prabhu and S. Sandeep, the assistant wildlife wardens of the Shola, Chinnar and Eravikulam National Parks respectively, supported the survey.
According to Sreehari Raman, who headed the survey team, climate change has been named one of the greatest long-term threats to most species globally. To understand the current status of species that have a restricted distributional range in the mid-high elevation areas of the Western Ghats, regions such as Munnar have to be studied for the long-term conservation of bats and other wild fauna, he said.
Salish Menachery, Rajan Pilakandi, Rajeeve Balakrishnan and Swetha also participated in the survey.