Human interference is forcing fruit bats - popular as flying foxes in India - to migrate away from the Jayanti Sarovar island of Jamshedpur, ornithologists have warned.
The bats, found mostly in South Asia, had been residing at the island for around eight decades. Their number was increasing from 500 in 2008 to 700 in 2009, but the situation took a U-turn and their number has reduced to less than 200 in the past couple of years, the Ornithological Society of India (OSI) claimed.
“Their number is decreasing to the vanishing point due to human interference in their natural habitat”, said Kamal Kishore Sharma, a former OSI member.
The bats are no longer getting natural suitable environment at the park spread across 0.69 hectares, Sharma said, blaming rise in noise level and deforestation for the trend.
Sources said the OSI had comeup with a proposal to develop the park into a bat sanctuary in 2010. Batman of India, G Marimuthu had visited Jamshedpur to develop the park into a suitable place for flying foxes, but to little avail.
Sharma said, “Three ‘Ds’ including Development (projects), Destruction and Disturbance in bat’s natural habitat at the park are primarily responsible for decreasing number of bats. The natural environment at the park is no longer suitable for them. Flying fox, divided into various groups, have been migrating towards nearby rural areas such as Ghatsila and Chandil in search of safe place for survival. They are no longer secure at the park in Jamshedpur”.
The condition of the only habitat for bats in Ranchi at Morhabadi’s Dada Dadi Park too is turning bad to worse. At least 50 bats died due to heat in 2012 at the park, which the government wanted to develop into a bat sanctuary, but failed. There is no count of the bats currently living at the park. The bats have been unattended at the park.
Environmentalists said that bats are useful for pollinating, regeneration of plants and natural seed disbursal in the surrounding areas.