Greater Horseshoe Bat
This bat species is the largest of the five members of the Rhinolophidae family in Europe, with Slovenia presenting its northern limit of distribution. The species overwinters predominantly in caves, with females choosing as their maternity roosts both caves and cellars as well as warm attics of churches and castles.
Greater Horseshoe Bats are endangered largely by humans with their reckless encroachments upon the bats’ roost sites (wintering grounds, maternity roosts, temporary roost sites) and encroachments upon their food habitats and migration corridors. It has been estimated that only 2,000 to 3,000 adult Greater Horseshoe Bats live in our country, and any change in their roost sites may present a very serious threat. There is no doubt that tourist visits to their wintering grounds wake these bats up, which undoubtedly contributes to a smaller chance of their survival until the spring months. Disturbances at their roost sites over the summer are equally harmful, as they endanger the chances of pups to survive. Greater Horseshoe Bats are also threatened by being chased away from their roost sites, by untimely and inappropriate renovation of buildings in which they roost, fragmentation of their food habitat (e.g. forests, forest edges, hedgerows, riparian vegetation, extensively farmed agricultural land) and destruction of their migration corridors (such as hedgerows).
To improve the conservation status of the Greater Horseshoe Bat and other bat species, the project will provide for the protection of their existing roost sites and feeding grounds. Borl Castle is the major known summer roost site and maternity roost of this species in NE Slovenia, and for this reason we will provide, within the framework of our project, suitable conditions for maintaining their maternity roost. In order to raise public awareness as to the importance of bat conservation, habitats and natural river processes, educational and interpretation points will be set up.
What can we do to improve the conservation status of bats?
- Let us preserve hedgerows and riparian vegetation and encourage extensive farming.
- We should avoid using sticky boards in orchards as bats, too, can stick to them.
- Let us put a bat box for them in a sheltered place near our home. We can build it ourselves (http://www.sdpvn-drustvo.si/po...);
- Let us not light up their roost sites; thus we shall contribute to the reduction of light pollution at the same time.
- Let us preserve their roost sites.
- Let us not disturb them at their wintering grounds and maternity roosts.
- Let us gain some knowledge about bats and share it with others. Let us not be afraid of them.
Why do we need bats?
- In Europe, bats feed on nocturnal insects and numerous other invertebrates such as spiders, centipedes, etc. In this way they regulate their abundance. Quite few among them also have a liking for our vegetables, fruits, etc. A research carried out in America has shown that the small Brown Pipistrelle, which weighs only 8 grams, can devour 600 mosquitoes and other insects in an hour.
- Bat droppings (guano) are an excellent fertilizer, particularly for leafy vegetables.
- Bats are indicators of environmental stability and state of conservation, for they are at the top of the food chain.