Words by Smiley Team
After more than two decades of population decline, British bats appear to be on their way to winging it again.
A survey conducted by thousands of volunteers has revealed that at least three of the country’s 17 species are growing in numbers thanks to sustained conservation efforts.
The lucky species include the rare greater horseshoe bat, the plum-sized lesser horseshoe bat and the common pipistrelle, which is the smallest and most common British bat.
Kit Stoner, Chief Executive of the Bat Conservation Trust which leads the survey, said: “These positive results indicate that strong legal protection works, and conservation action to protect and conserve bats is achieving success.”
“This means many of us can now enjoy seeing some of these fascinating flying mammals in our parks and green spaces close to where we live.”
In recent years conservationists have noticed signs that a fourth species - the Natterer’s bat - is also on the rise. But they had to suspend its monitoring programme in 2020.
To ensure this win, the Bat Conservation Trust dedicates its time to protecting biodiversity, responding to calls for help to protect bats via its helpline, and campaigning to ensure government policies on protecting bats are followed correctly.
Kit explained: “This recovery is not by coincidence but thanks to sustained efforts and it brings us a step closer to achieving our vision of a world richer in wildlife where bats and people thrive together.”
Up until 1999, bat populations were falling, largely due to intensive farming, habitat loss, persecution, pesticides, poor water quality, loss of prey and development.
Despite conservation efforts, bats remain at risk with some species such as the greater mouse-eared bat still critically endangered.
As well as monitoring the species, the Bat Conservation Trust protects and restores bat habitats to encourage population growth.
“It is vitally important that this continues. Strong wildlife laws and conservation action are underpinning the recovery of charismatic species such as our wonderful common pipistrelle, after decades of historical decline,” said Kit.
DONATE: To help conservationists continue to protect British bats, donate to the Bat Conservation Trust.
GET INVOLVED: Join thousands of volunteers monitoring the bat population by helping conduct a bat survey.
TAKE ACTION: If you find a bat or roost at risk, phone the Bat Conservation Trust helpline.