Description of the project

Description of the project

Project title: LIFE08 NAT/RO/000504 “Bat conservation in Pădurea Craiului, Bihor and Trascău Mountains”, LIFE+ Nature and Biodiversity, co-financed by the Life Programme of the European Union

Project acronym: Bat-Conservation-Romania

Project duration: 2010 – 2013

Project budget (total): 1.286.575 €, out of which LIFE+ contribution: 643.288 €

The project objectives were:
- to ensure the long term conservation of the bat populations in the project area;
- to  increase awareness among the general public of the ecological importance of bats and the need to protect them;
- creating a network of specialists and organizations which can contribute to the long-term monitoring of bat populations in the project area;

- management plans of seven bat species for the project area prepared;
- a guideline for the elaboration of management plans of underground bat roosts and surrounding habitats, which could be used in the future at national level;
- 15 caves were closed in a bat-friendly way, to minimize the disturbance of bat colonies,
in the most important tourism oriented caves, measures were taken to avoid the disturbance of bats;
- lighting conditions were modified in three caves;
- warning sign were placed at 40 caves in the area, to strictly prohibit the access to bat colonies located in the cave;
- 9 important underground habitats were cleaned up from waste;
- information boards were placed in front of 15 caves, which show the importance of bats and the main objectives of the project;
- informative materials (books, brochures, leaflets, documentary, website) were created, which contributed in changing the negative attitude against bats and disseminated the project’s results;
- a network of specialists was created in the project implementation area; this increased the sustainability and efficiency of future bat survey, monitoring and conservation actions;

Why do bats need protection?
Both in terms of biodiversity and superstitions surrounding them, the order of bats (Chiroptera) are situated at the top of the animal kingdom. Objects of legend, bad signs and embodiments of phobias. But in reality, the situation is different. Because bats do not cling to your hair, and do not eat bacon in the attic. There are not creatures of hell, but rather of evolution. Similarly, they only rarely feed on blood. These species live exclusively in South America, feeding on the blood of cows, hens, etc. So, there is no reason for concern.

Alongside these exaggerated and unfounded beliefs, we can find also a number of good examples. In China, bats are immortal, symbols of happiness and joy. In South America, the locals believe that bats were the first animals to be created in the world. In New Guinea, they are symbols of fertility, while in the Altaic peoples they represent the embodiment of good. Tangible benefits, even if not obvious (yet), can be readily verified. One pipistrelle (the smallest species in Romania) consumes approximately 1.500 mosquitoes in one night. Without the appetite of some tropical bat species (those feeding with pollen), many plants in the tropics could not adequately distribute their pollen. Huge colonies ofTadarida brasiliensis from Texas consume in a night dozens of tons of insects.

Despite these benefits, several bat species worldwide are threatened with extinction. As the world leader in conservation actions, IUCN estimates, 25% of bat species are classified in a category at risk. In most cases, the causes of threats are in close relation with the disappearance or alteration of natural habitats (forests, caves), and this, as in case of other animal species, is in strong relation with the human factor. For bats, the threat factor becomes even more pronounced, due to ignorance and superstition.

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