Processing the bats


We walk back to the car with the few bats we captured. Suddenly, we hear Dina screaming at the top of her lungs from the other side of the park. She needs help: A big bat box probably contains more than 10 bats, the door is heavy and she is alone on the ladder. She wants to capture all the bats, but assistance is required to supply her with bags.

Suddenly, we hear Dina screaming at the top of her lungs from the other side of the park. She needs help: A big bat box probably contains more than 10 bats.

I see one bat escaping from the box while I run to her, and she explains the problem. I take hold of the ladder and hand her extra bags. First, she carefully removes the internal part of the box. It consists of a few wooden plates stacked parallel to each other at distances of 4 to 5 centimetres. Each plate has ridges on it that help the bats cling onto the plates.

Jenna quickly joins us, and we take the bags from Dina. More bats mean more data, and this is gold for scientists.

We move to the car and start processing each bat. I do the paperwork and listen closely to their discussions. Dina is excited to see recaptured bats; this is always good news. Jenna and Lara both have learned to put the tags securely under the bats’ skin. Fifteen bats done, and we move the ladders to the next spot. This concludes the day for monitoring.

Documentaries and science outreach


Dina and Lara continue with the film crew. The documentary people want to shoot scientists putting radio collar tags on the bats at nighttime. The director discusses the scene with Dina and instructs her to be as natural as possible when explaining the key steps of the tagging process to Lara.

The day ends for most people around 17:00, but for Dina and her team, it goes well beyond the sunset hours. After spending an evening with them, I realize what hard work this research is, and that someone can only do it if they have a passion for this kind of work.

Doing science also involves doing outreach. This means getting the science out to people. The field site is a park, after all, and the sound of bats does attract some attention from the casual citizen strolling by the lake.

Dina and her team take time to answer questions from the locals, showing them the bats up close and explaining what they are doing. It is repetitive and tedious, but the team always welcomes people with a big smile. It is fun for them to share their work, talk about their favourite animals and share fun scientific facts with people.

Especially for the kids, early interaction with wildlife can reduce their fear of certain animals or insects. The team addresses the curiosity of the kids, and perhaps this will inspire them to become scientists one day!

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All images courtesy of Hemal Naik

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