Bats were the only mammals to naturally colonise the Mascarenes. Mauritius has three species of bats: the Mauritian fruit bat, Mauritian free-tailed bat and Mauritian tomb bat. Sadly these are some of the least studied animals on the island.
Mauritian free-tailed bat (Mormopterus acetabulosus)
The insectivorous, cave dwelling Mauritian free-tailed bat (also known as the Natal free-tailed bat) is one of the least known animal species in Mauritius. So far, no study has been conducted about the ecology and behaviour of this species.
The project is the first to focus on these bats and study their population size, roosting requirement, breeding, movement and feeding behaviour.
This project involves:
Surveying and mapping the caves around Mauritius and recording their status.
Monitoring the wild population of the bats and their inter-cave movement through capture-mark-recapture study.
Radio tracking of the bats to record their movement and feeding behaviour.
Setting up insect traps in bat feeding areas to identify their diet.
Analysis of the guano for cross-referencing with the trapped insects.
Cleaning the caves of rubbish and establishing cave protection for the major bat colonies.
Additionally, captive colony of the natal free-tale bats will be established to monitor their behaviour and breeding. You will be involved in managing and monitoring the colony.
Mauritian tomb bat (Taphozous mauritianus)
Although commonly seen at night feeding around urban areas, the major roosts of these bats are unknown. This project aims to:
Locate roosting areas in Mauritius
Study the behaviour of this bats as well as their diet.
A captive population will be established to monitor the behaviour of bats and their breeding ecology.
You will be involved in mist netting and radio tracking of the bats to see where they roost and how far they travel. Also, managing and monitoring the captive population.
Mauritian fruit bat (Pteropus niger)
Mauritian fruit bat is the biggest controversy in Mauritius as it is claimed to be the major pest in commercial fruit farms. So far it is the best studied bat but still there are needs for future research.
This project aims to:
Monitor movement and feeding behaviour of this bats
Keep assessing the damage they cause to fruit farms
Develop non-lethal bat deterrence.
You will be involved in monitoring of fruit orchards, assessing feeding sites of the bats and collecting seeds dispersed by the animal to propagate in the nursery.
All these projects involve day and night work, however you can choose in which part you want to be involved. You will need:
A good head torch
Please note that not every activity will be available at the time you join us since some are season-dependant.