Agasthya 6.3 Temple bats - denizens of the dark
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Centre for Excellence in Conservation Science
Royal Enclave,Srirampura,Jakkur Post
Telephone: 080-23635555 (EPABX)
Fax : 080- 23530070

While Lise studied animals and plants during the day, I was after the nocturnal visitors to the temples -bats. Thus my work essentially started in the evenings and spilled over the night. In this first part of our action oriented project, the population survey was entrusted to me while the socio-economic study was handled by Mathivanan who is more comfortable in the local language. What really triggered this project was the fact that the bats in these temples have been decimated due to temple renovation and the idea was to assess their population. We recorded 5 species of bats and their populations in the 61 temples and made a map of their occurrence in the temple. From a preliminary analysis we could find a few key factors that determine the presence of a good bat population. Quiet and dark corners, less crowded parts of temples, carved or finely cracked ceilings seemed to influence bat populations. From a researcher's point of view, the joy of sharing this fresh knowledge with local community both young and old who were curious about our work was quite exciting. The response of people to the bats were very variable, some were indifferent as they occupied parts of the temple which were not used by the devotees, while others even noticed the decimation of bat population after temple renovation. With further probing they have even said that bats have moved to some other temple in the same locality. I was overall surprised that despite the noise and the stench of faeces, pilgrims and priests often did not mind the presence of the bats in the temples. As any nave European who has been suddenly exposed to a new world where everything is so different, I too, inevitably tended to become an anthropologist. I couldn't help but be amazed by wealth that was unveiled to me in India, beauty of its temples and biodiversity that it protects is a cultural and economic asset. The rich nature of unique animals, giant bats hanging on the trees like huge fruits or flying in the sky like huge European birds of prey, showed me that cohabitation is possible with animals which are generally considered unwelcome. I hope that in the coming years the religious practices will be continued along with the continued existence of the bats, flying freely in and around these temples.



Editorial Team
Editor: Allwin Jesudasan
Associate editor: Rajkamal Goswami
Editorial Review: R. Ganesan, M. Soubadra Devy, T. Ganesh
Design and presentation: Kiran Salagame

Volume 6,  Issue 3
      November 2012

A S H O K A   T R U S T   F O R   R E S E A R C H   I N   E C O L O G Y   A N D   T H E   E N V I R O N M E N T

Temple bats- denizens of the dark
- Marie-Nol
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