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British bat protectionists attracted to Slovakia’s bats
10 Sep 2012 Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská Regional News
Slovakia’s diverse population of bat species lures a small number of visitors each year from Great Britain. A group of natural scientists and bat enthusiasts flocks to Slovakia from all corners of Great Britain, consisting of professionals who engage in environmental protection at home.
Their guide, Martin Ceľuch, from the Association for the Protection of Bats in Slovakia / Spoločnosť pre ochranu netopierov na Slovensku (SON), told the TASR newswire that the Britons’ trips bring several advantages to Slovakia: apart from money and a boost in tourism, the bat protectionists use their visits to monitor bat colonies. At the end of August, the bat enthusiasts look for bats in lofts and church attics, as well as mining holes, in the vicinity of Revúca, in central Slovakia
“There are many more species of bats in our country, and the colonies are also more numerous here, and that enchanted the British. Now, groups of about 8 people come here twice a year, but we only go to the vicinity of Muránska planina (Muráň plane) as we can find most of the species here on a relatively small territory,” Ceľuch said.
During the summer, bat colonies inhabit lofts and attics of churches and other structures where they are unlikely to be disturbed by anyone. Over time, however, they can threaten historical monuments with guano. Thousands of these night fliers can heap several tonnes of excrement over several years.
“Visits by natural scientists from the UK are also a source of aid for us. We use them to clean the lofts of churches. The work (in lofts) itself is done by volunteers, but we can pay at least for the transport. Of course, there are more activities connected with the protection of bats. As we are talking about a protected species here, we have a license from the Slovak Environment Ministry. At the same time, we use the visits … for monitoring, to see how many bats live in the locality and in what shape they are in. Afterwards, we hand over the data to the State Natural Protection,” Ceľuch concluded.
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