Ecosure attends International Bat Research Conference in Phuket

Ecosure Environmental Scientist Emily Hatfield recently attended the 18th International Bat Research Conference in Phuket, Thailand (July 2019). The International Conference was attended by over 400 scientists and students from North, Central and South America, Africa, Australia (25 delegates), Europe and Asia, delivering 230 oral presentations and 70 poster presentations. The program was diverse and jam-packed, with sessions focussing on ecology, genetics, infectious disease, policy and social science with regard to both microbats and old world fruit bats.

Emily delivered a presentation on the management of human/flying-fox conflict in Australia, for which she received very positive feedback from attending delegates. Emily was particularly interested in the similarities and differences of flying-fox management and perception between Australia and international countries. Parallels include how bats are portrayed in the media, as well as the social science and sentiment towards bats. The media can have a significantly negative impact on flying-fox management, as is evident in Australia. This is done through the spread of false and misleading information regarding flying-foxes and the increase in reporting during years of prescribed culling.

In contrast to management in Australia, culling and consumption are significant issues in South-east Asia. In Malaysia and Indonesia, hunting and eating bats are key issues despite the fact that bats provide an important resource for tourism within communities. Previous engagement strategies used to tackle this issue have not been able to elicit a reduction in the consumption of bats. Prescribed culls also continue despite governments being presented with scientific evidence of decreasing bat numbers. This practise is becoming normalised and is commonly used as a way to protect fruit orchards, even though it is often ineffective. Damage to fruit orchards is also done by birds, yet there are no calls for bird culling.

The conference was extremely informative and interesting, and we are so glad that Emily was able to present the work that Ecosure’s Wildlife Team conducts, regarding flying-fox/human conflict management.

For further information please contact 1300 112 021 or visit ecosure.com.au