Stop culling of bats in Mauritius

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Following some articles in the press, we have found out that the Ministry of Agro Industry and Food Security of Mauritius is planning to carry out another fruit bat cull in order to kill about 20 000 of our endemic bats because fruit farmers blame them for damaging crops and fruits. However, culling of bats is inhumane, illogical, short-sighted and goes against science.


The International Union for Conservation of Nature classifies the local bats ( Pteropus niger) as vulnerable and the species could become endangered if the government goes forward with the culling of bats. These bats are extremely important to Mauritius' biodiversity. Bats are crucial to our ecosystem because they help in dispersing seeds, pollinating flowers, and eating agricultural insect pests. Killing ecologically important flying fox bats would further devastate this country's vegetation. Since the killing of bats in 2015, the population of bats has decreased by nearly 50% and carrying out a killing operation again will not only further decrease the population of bats but will also cause more harm to our ecosystem. Moreover, there is a probability that many of the bats in this period are lactating females and killing them leave their babies starve to death. Those who are not immediately killed go through a lot of suffering.


In 2015, about 30 000 bats were culled but this did not address the economic losses encountered by fruit farmers. This goes to show that killing is not a solution. According to a 2014 study, bats contribute to only 3-11% of fruit loss. Other factors contribute more massively to the loss fruit farmers face. For instance, 13- 20% of fruits are lost because they are not collected in time. If bats are contributing to only 3-11% of loss, how will the cull be successful? There exist better and more humane solutions to the problems encountered by the fruit farmers, and we need to recognize them.


One of the immediate solutions includes the effective use of tree netting by fruit farmers. A long term solution will be to invest in the restoration of the native forests in order to increase food sources for the bats. Some of the trees that can be planted to restore our native forests and simultaneously provide food sources to bats include the native figs. This is an effective and cruelty-free long-term solution which needs to be implemented.


We, the undersigned, request you not to go forward with the culling of bats. This will not only damage our ecosystem but will also further soil the image of Mauritius when it comes to animal welfare.


We hope that our voices will be heard.

 



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