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Bats, Free Tailed

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Guru
Joined: Fri Jan 14, 2005 8:18 am
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Location: Skukuza
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Wed Aug 01, 2007 2:36 pm Unread post
Hi Folks

At the request of Arks, I am starting this thread. The same information has been placed in the Letaba thread.

Beeld and Kruger Park Times newspapers will probably carry a story about the bat situation in Letaba soon, so I thought I will inform you of the situation.

Visitors alerted KNP officials to the fact that there were dead bats near one of the "bat houses" in Letaba Rest Camp on Saturday July 14, 2007.
The section ranger for Letaba Ranger Section, Mr Joe Nkuna and his staff had also noticed dead bats, particularly around the bat house in the Ranger Post and alerted State Vet Dr Dewald Keet (from the Department of Agriculture's Veterinary Services).
Staff from the camp, in particular from People and Conservation (Ms Kirsty Redman's staff), was alerted and started collecting bat carcasses on the request of Dr Keet.
On Monday and Tuesday (July 16 - 17), 140 carcasses were picked up near the bat house at Letaba Ranger Post, 134 carcasses were picked up near the bat houses in Letaba Camp and 500-odd were found in the Linen Room of the camp.
On Wednesday (July 18 ) a further 200 carcasses were picked up all around Letaba.
On Thursday (July 19) a further 100 carcasses were picked up.
Dr Dewald Keet (State Vet, Department of Agriculture's Veterinary Services) contacted Professor Bob Swanepoel at the National Institute of Communicable Diseases in Pretoria as he couldn't find any specific reason why the bats died. Dr Keet has ruled out rabies.
Prof Swanepoel and his team came to Kruger (Letaba) to investigate and arrived on Thursday July 19.
Letaba People and Conservation staff continued to find carcasses, but these were all small amounts. It is believed that they were old carcasses that have been hanging in the houses since the phenomenon started. They also investigated the bat houses and, to our surprise, it was found that more bats had moved in to these houses. These bats are still alive.
Over 1 000 bat carcasses were found in the Letaba area during that week. No new carcasses have been found since then.
In effect, we still don't know what caused the deaths but hopefully Prof Swanepoel and his team will find answers soon. As he has explained to me, there are a number of tests that will need to be carried out and answers don't necessarily come quickly. Some might only come after years of research, but this is another one of those mysteries at the moment. I have asked him to keep me in the loop so I will let everyone know as soon as there are any developments.


Notes:
- Bat Houses (or hotels) have been erected at a number of rest camps in the Kruger National Park as an environmentally-friendly way of decreasing visitor discomfort when these animals roost in tourist accommodation facilities as, it is hoped, they choose these "bat friendly" facilities rather than the tourist units. There are nine bat houses in Letaba, eight in the camp itself and one at the Ranger's Post;
- The bats found were all Angolan free-tailed bats (Mops condylurus);
- Prof Bob Swanepoel is a well known virologist from the Special Pathogens Unit of the National Institute of Communicable Diseases in Pretoria.

Kind regards
KNP Spokesman
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Senior Virtual Ranger
Joined: Sun Mar 20, 2005 5:53 pm
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Location: Cambridge, MA (and home from home in Darling, WC)
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Wed Aug 01, 2007 2:50 pm Unread post
Thanks, KNPS! I will be watching developments with interest!



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Junior Virtual Ranger
Joined: Tue Sep 26, 2006 12:20 pm
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Wed Aug 01, 2007 3:13 pm Unread post
Thats just HORRIBLE!! :cry: I am so glad that I wasnt there to witness it because I love bats and most probably would have cried about each one..



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Joined: Sat Aug 19, 2006 12:09 pm
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Thu Aug 02, 2007 4:55 pm Unread post
I noticed around 10 dead bats under a bat house in Berg en Dal in June whilst doing HR duty.

I assumed that they died of cold.

Only 1 of the 6 bat houses that I checked seemed to be inhabited



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Legendary Virtual Ranger
Joined: Wed Mar 16, 2005 12:38 pm
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Fri Aug 03, 2007 1:44 pm Unread post
Talking of bats, maybe bat hotels could be put up in 2 Rivieren in KTP. This would help get them out of the chalets there.


Letaba bats

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Joined: Sun Aug 05, 2007 12:41 pm
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Location: Gauteng
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Sun Aug 05, 2007 12:48 pm Unread post
Thats really sad news. I am very interested to know the outcomes of all the tests being run. I work with Bats in Gauteng & wonder if we will have any problems? Also have any other camps shown the same or simialr problem? And finally is it all the same type of bat only?

Keep up the good work!


Bat deaths


Sun Aug 05, 2007 7:14 pm Unread post
Hello and welcome Battyjack!

I think the fact that it is all one species would seem to indicate some species-specific disease or parasite.

I wouldn't be too worried, as these bats occur in their hundreds of thousands!

Plenty left in the bush!


Bats

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Joined: Sun Aug 05, 2007 12:41 pm
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Location: Gauteng
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Sun Aug 05, 2007 9:19 pm Unread post
Thanks!!
Yip...while they do occur in their thousands it is still a concern! Bats dont have many predators but one of the biggest is man....and when we kill them we tend to do it in large numbers! Such as a whole breeding colony etc.
Its fortunate that its only one type of bat at the moment but if it is something man has caused we better shake ass & sort it out before we do more damage!!
They may be small but thay are really important. It also seems that more bats have moved into the bat houses and all seems well.....so hopefully whatever it was is over!


Bat Death

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Joined: Fri Sep 21, 2007 1:44 pm
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Fri Sep 21, 2007 2:09 pm Unread post
Since it is one type of species, I think this may be an indication of extinction due to changes in climate or lack of food on any other reason.



Wild lover


Bat, Angolan Free Tailed

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Virtual Ranger
Joined: Sat Mar 29, 2008 7:05 pm
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Location: Looking for Bats...
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Wed May 07, 2008 8:18 pm Unread post
The Angolan Free Tailed Bat (Mops condylurus) is undoubtedly one of Kruger's most common species of bat. It is a member of the Molosidae family (Free Tailed Bats) and is highly gregarious often roosting in groups of 100-1000 individuals. They are distinguished from other bats within Kruger by the tail hanging free from the tail membrane (Free Tailed Bat) , the mastiff like face and the white/off white underparts.

This species is common in the majority of camps within Kruger but one of the best places to see this species is in Letaba rest Camp where they occupy the bat houses. It is a must do when visiting the camp and staying over to go to one of these bat houses at sunset and to witness these bats drop from their roost in their thousands!


Last edited by Batmad on Tue Jul 16, 2013 11:15 am, edited 2 times in total.



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Senior Virtual Ranger
Joined: Sat Jun 30, 2007 1:16 pm
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Thu May 08, 2008 10:05 pm Unread post
:clap: :clap: :clap: I certainly learnt from your description -- well done :clap:


Re: Bats, Free Tailed

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Virtual Ranger
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Wed Feb 18, 2009 6:52 pm Unread post
Are there any more questions on this subject?? I may be able to answer them :wink:


pictures of Angolan free-tailed bat

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Joined: Fri Sep 18, 2009 11:23 am
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Fri Sep 18, 2009 1:18 pm Unread post
Greetings all

I am updating the Smithers Mammals of Southern Africa Field Guide, and I want to upgrade the Angolan free-tailed bat (Mops condylurus) to a full species treatment. Penny Meaking is doing the new illustrations, and I need photographs for her to work from. To my surprise I am finding it difficult to find anyone who has pictures of Angolan free-tailed bats.

Ideally it would be good to have a nice clear shot of the whole animal, but Penny is able to combine parts from different pictures, so cropped edges, odd things in the background, and parts of human hands may not be a major problem.

As an incentive I can offer an acknowledgment in the book , and a free copy.

Please PM me.

Thank you

Peter Apps


Re: pictures of Angolan free-tailed bat

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Distinguished Virtual Ranger
Joined: Wed Aug 31, 2005 12:28 am
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Location: Pretoria, RSA
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Fri Sep 18, 2009 7:57 pm Unread post
Hi Peter

Welcome to the SANParks Forums!

Let's see whether out bat fanatics can help you?

I have posted a link to your request here.


Re: pictures of Angolan free-tailed bat

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Virtual Ranger
Joined: Sat Mar 29, 2008 7:05 pm
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Wed Oct 14, 2009 3:53 pm Unread post
hey peter,

I have a few pictures of Angolan free tailed bats but of them against the wall. I shall look through my collection and see if i have some of the underbelly of the bat for you.

But if i dont -is a speciman of one clinging to a wall ok?

Regards,

BM
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