Two new bat species – Pipistrellus ceylonicus and Tylonycteris fulvida – has been spotted for the first time in Assam, the current issue of Journal of Threatened Taxa says. According to the journal Assam now has a total of 32 bat species.
Experts said the two species, which had been found in the past two years, face threat because of climate change, habitat loss and deforestation and their disappearance might lead to prevalence of diseases like dengue, encephalitis and malaria.
Bats are an integral part of an ecosystem that provides immense services towards the benefit of nature and human economics. They are efficient bug-eaters with each bat consuming up to 1,000 mosquitoes per hour.
Uttam Saikia, a scientist of Zoological Survey of India, who has been studying bats for many years now, said both the species are insect-eaters and its disappearance could lead to prevalence of diseases.
Citing an instance from one of his papers, Saikia said 20 million Mexican freetailed bats roosting in Bracken Cave in Texas, USA, are estimated to eat 250 tonnes of insects each night.
“Many of these insects are agricultural pests and therefore, their preservation is crucial for agricultural productivity,” The Telegraph quoted Saikia as saying.
Ananda Ram Boro, the principal author of the article published in the journal, and a professor of zoology department of Pandu College, said the Pipistrellus ceylonicus species had been caught in Sisuwati village at the southern edge of Burachapari wildlife sanctuary in Sonitpur district in November 2016.
Boro was one of the researchers involved in the survey which was conducted in various parts of western Assam between August 2012 and September 2017.
“The village is situated on the sandy riverbank of the Brahmaputra with scattered human settlements. The bat was captured in a butterfly net while it was flying inside a school building. Although we could not ascertain the bat’s roosting location, secondary sources said a colony of bats roosts on the ceiling of a community health centre building nearby,” he said.
Two adult club-footed Tylonycteris fulvida had been caught inside a bamboo grove, surrounded by agricultural fields on all sides, in Balahati village in Baksa district in July last year.
“On several earlier occasions, this species had visited the bamboo patch only during the wet season, especially between June and August,” he added.