Saturday 9 March 2013

This species of Bat is found only here

This Bat is  considered to be among the fifteen most critically endangered Bat species in the world and so far it has been found only in India.
Even in India, this Bat has been found in only one location and that is in Karnataka. This free-tailed bat is on the list of most endangered  species in the world.
It was thought to be endemic to a single cave system in India until its recent discovery in Cambodia and a cave in Meghalaya in north east India. However, only one Bat was discovered in Cambodia and there is need for further study to validate these claims.
But so far, the only major colony is in Karnataka and unfortunately, not much is known about them. Though careful monitoring is needed, these bats are extremely vulnerable to habitat destruction and roost disturbance.
The Bats are found in fairly large numbers in a cave called Barapede. The cave is part of the famed Bhimgadh Forest Reserve in Belgaum district of Karnataka State.
The Barapede cave has always been known for Bats and it is only in the last few decades that zoologists have stumbled upon the rare species called Wroughton's free-tailed bat- Otomops wroughtoni.
This Bat was thought to have been extinct until its discovery in the Barapede caves. The caves are near Talewadi, 30 kms from Belgaum City.
A few such Bats were discovered at Phrang Karuh Cave near Nongtrai village in Shella confederacy of  Meghalaya. However, this needs further investigation as is the find of a lone Bat in Cambodia in Chhep District, Preah Vihear Province.
Coming back to the Barapede Cave, the Bat colony has  approximately 70 or more individuals. Female bats  have been recorded carrying one foetus or young. Generally, the population of the Bats at the cave seems to fluctuate between 40 and 100 as reported by different workers.
The cave is supposed to offer an ideal habitat for these Bats. It is  located on a plateau above a moist deciduous forested valley at 800 metres with high humidity inside.
These Bats were found to live in small groups of  two to fifteen individuals in crevices throughout the cave.
Zoologists have reported that the habitat close to the Barapede cave is threatened from submergence due to a proposed dam and from ongoing mining activities (Molur et al. 2002). Another threat is from the spread of alien plants species Prosopis sp. at the cave mouth is a visible hindrance to bat activities (M.S. Pradhan pers. comm. February 2003). Unlike other bats, which eat both insects and fruits, these bats eat only the insects. These Bats are difficult to photograph as they are not only very small in size but they stay inside small crevices in dark caves.
Another Bat species- Theobald's tomb bats -Taphozus theobaldi-can also be found here. Though this species is widespread, it is  relatively uncommon. It inhabits forested areas and roosts mainly in caves. Large roosts numbering thousands of bats can be found in India, Burma, Cambodia, Thailand and Laos.
Theobald-tomb bats can be found in the Bhimgad caves, about six kilometres from Barapedi cave. It is found in two other locations in the forests of Madhya Pradesh. This also is on the endangered list. The false vampire bat- Megaderma spasma -is classified as rare and it can be found here.
The Bhimgadh Forests are part of the Western Ghats and the  Barapede Caves are located between Krishnapur and Talewadi.
The Wildlife Sanctuary is near Jamboti village of Khanapur taluk and it was declared a wildlife sanctuary on December 2011.
The Bhimgad forests are home to several pother species of wildlife 
Like tigers, leopards, sloth bears, Dholes or wild dogs, foxes, King Cobras, Cobras, snakes, Gaur, Spotted Deer, Chitals and elephants. It also has an impressive list of mammals, birds and reptiles.
The area takes its name from the Bhimgadh Fort which was built  by Shivaji. The fort is in a romantic setting and it is in the midst of thick forests. A trekker’s delight, it rises 1800 feet  vertically above the plains.
The fort occupies the summit of an extraordinary rock, with sides about 300 ft (91 m) in perpendicular height. The defenses were almost entirely natural, requiring little additional construction. The ruins of the 380-ft high and 825-ft broad Bhimgad fort are located right in the heart of the Mahadayi forest, and is of great historical significance.
Shivaji built the fort to keep an Eye on the Portuguese.
The sanctuary is contiguous to the east of Mahadevi sanctuary , Mollem National Park and Netravathi Wildlife Sanctuary.
The western border areas of Bhimgadh Sanctuary encompasses several geo-morphological lime stone formations with scores of caves. Several rivers, including the Mahadei, Malaprabha and Tillari along with smaller streams originate here.
The Mahadei originates in the Bhimgad forests with a cluster of 30 springs forming the river Mahadayi, which is joined by two other streams Marcidha Nala and Pannera Nala. The waters flow down in the valley and over the 150 ft (46 m) Vajrapoha Falls. It then continues towards Goa where it is known as Mandovi.  

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