Scientists are now saying that the Mauritian government’s project to cull native bat populations might exacerbate the problem of flooding in the country.
The Mauritian government’s decision to cull native bats has captured much attention, both locally and internationally, ever since it was announced. Scientists have put forth a series of arguments to show that getting rid of bats is detrimental to the environment.
Recently, an article published in National Geographic mentions another possible negative effect that might result from the project. Two scientists, namely Paul A. Racey and Rodrigo A. Medellín, made an exposé of their opinions relating to the impending doom awaiting Mauritian bats.
Apart from the direct negative impact on pollination, killing off the bats has now been linked with the possibility of increased flooding. Following the island’s colonisation, much of its forests were cut down, and this continued in later years to accommodate for infrastructural development such that forests now occupy only 2 % of the island’s area. This large-scale deforestation might have worsened flooding; during the last few years, Mauritius has witnessed some deadly floods.
According to scientists, the island stands vulnerable to torrential rain without its forests. Bats help preserve the island’s green areas because of their role in pollinating flowers and disseminating seeds. Therefore, it is argued that killing them will undermine the process of restoring the much-needed forests.
On the other hand, the authorities state that the creatures are responsible for decrease in the harvest of fruits, and that only a certain number of them will be killed. Their figures have, however, been contested by the Mauritius Wildlife Foundation (MWF). Local ecologist Vincent Florens has also proposed alternatives to getting rid of some of the bat population. He was even quoted in an article of The Washington Post. Furthermore, a scientist from the University of Bristol who has studied the effects of bats on Mauritian fruit trees has also explained that killing off the bats is not the solution.
This article is based on one published by National Geographic.