Bats being targeted due to fear of COVID-19 in India

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Several researchers of various universities and conservation organisations spread across nine countries including India, Germany, UK, Australia and the US, while arguing that it is premature and unfair to blame bats or any other animal for the Covid-19 pandemic given that the exact origin of SARS-CoV-2 or its precursor is not known, have urged people not to villainize bats.

People in four districts of Rajasthan have been spotted killing Indian bats, affecting their breeding season and useful role in agriculture and environmental balance.

“Killing of bats by local villagers, fearing the spread of COVID-19, with the help of forest workers in Churu, Sikar, Jhunjhunu, and Nagaur districts’ old monuments and ‘havelis’ in Rajasthan, has been very frequent in the past fortnight,” Dr Dau Lal Bohra, conservationist and member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Rajasthan.

As many as 45 bats were killed in Sadulpur of Churu district, and over 150 in Lohargarl area of Jhunjhunu district recently, Bohra, a key researcher on bats and vultures, visiting Sambhar Lake, disclosed to The Tribune.

Bats perform vital ecosystem services: They pollinate flowers of some mangroves, and many other commercially and culturally important plants. Insect-eating bats are voracious eaters of pest insects in rice, corn, cotton and potentially, tea farms.  Insectivorous bats  voraciously eat pest insects that cause economic losses in rice plantations. 

Source: The Print, Times of India, TribuneIndia

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