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A recent study indicates that more than 50% of habitats suitable for 37 species of bats in the Southern Western Ghats lie outside protected areas, potentially increasing threats faced by the animals due to poaching for their meat, habitat loss and stigma from local communities, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Bats are the largest mammalian group after rodents, with over 1,300 species making up a quarter of all mammals.
- They occur on all continents except Antarctica and are particularly diverse in South Asia, with 114 species of insect-eating bats and 14 fruit bats, also known as “flying foxes”, occurring in India.
- They roost in large colonies on trees, tree hollows, caves, rock crevices and abandoned manmade structures.
- They play a unique role in maintaining ecosystem structure, making a singular contribution to our food production, economy and well-being.
- They are the only mammals capable of true flight and have a unique sonar-based echolocation mechanism to capture prey at night.