Scientists discover species thought to be extinct

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For the first time in 40 years, researchers have caught a Hill’s horseshoe bat, confirming that the bat population is still clinging to life in Rwanda’s Nyungwe National Park, an area with high biodiversity.

Some 40% of the 1,321 bat species assessed on the IUCN Red List are now classified as endangered. (International Bat Conservation)

A critically endangered species of bat that hasn’t been seen in 40 years has been discovered in Rwanda, with the “incredible” discovery thrilling conservationists who feared it was already extinct.

But Hill’s horseshoe bat was actually still clinging to life in Rwanda’s Nyungwe Forest – a dense rainforest that is home to endangered mountain gorillas – the consortium said originally. of discovery.

There was no mammal population information and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) listed them in 2021 as critically endangered.

Rediscovering the lost species “was amazing,” Jon Flanders, director of Bat Conservation International (BCI), said in a statement Tuesday.

“It’s amazing to think that we’re the first to see this bat for so long.”

The Texas-based nonprofit had partnered with the Rwanda Development Board and the Rwanda Wildlife Conservation Association to conduct jungle surveys from 2013.

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bumblebee bat

In 2019, after a 10-day expedition to roam the caves in the forest, scientists found the bat.

“We knew immediately that the bat we had captured was unusual and remarkable,” said BCI chief scientist Winifred Frick.

“The facial features were exaggerated to the point of being comical.”

But it took them another three years to verify its species.

Creatures of the night have long been infamous as fanged monsters or vectors of disease, with the coronavirus pandemic doing little to improve that image after scientists said Covid-19 likely originated in animals.

From the tiny two-gram “bumblebee bat” to the giant Philippine flying fox with its 1.5-meter wingspan, bats make up one-fifth of all land mammals.

Some 40 percent of the 1,321 species assessed on the IUCN Red List are now classified as endangered.

Human actions – including deforestation and habitat loss – are to blame.

For Rwandan researchers, this elusive discovery marks the start of a new race to prevent the once-lost species from becoming extinct again.

“Now our real work is starting to figure out how to protect this species for the long term,” Flanders said.

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Source: AFP

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