Bat Flash! One of World’s Greatest Wildlife Wonders Under Immediate Threat

The survival of ten million straw-colored fruit bats may hinge on your voice. They come from across equatorial Africa to rear their young in Zambia’s Kasanka National Park, which serves as critical roosting habitat each October and November. Now both the park, and adjacent forest where bats feed, are threatened by a proposal for expansion of industrial agriculture.

These bats roost in a single hectare of parkland. However, finding the thousands of tons of native fruit they require nightly necessitates additional protection of nearly 386,000 hectares of pristine forest, designated as the Kafinda Game and Management Area (GMA).

This critical forest is now seriously threatened. Approximately 5,000 hectares have already been illegally cleared for a game farm. And now Lake Agro Industries has submitted a formal proposal (called an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment, or ESIA) requesting permission from the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) to clear 7,000 additional hectares of GMA habitat, just three kilometers from the park. The proposal includes authorization to draw water directly from the Luwombwa River which feeds the park’s vital wetlands. At peak demand, more than 90% of the river would be diverted, threatening the park’s very survival.

Here is the Kasanka Press Release.

**UPDATED PRESS RELEASE HERE.**

Loss of Kasanka’s bats could threaten whole ecosystems and economies across most of equatorial Africa, resulting in needless desertification, not to mention depriving humans of one of our planet’s greatest remaining wildlife wonders. These bats spread thousands of tons of seeds nightly, covering enormous expanses during seasonal migrations. The value of their ecoservices is almost unimaginable.

TAKE ACTION!

 

Our combined voices can make a difference – let ZEMA know the world is watching and counting on them to protect this critical wildlife! Here are 3 actions you can take:

 

1. EMAIL – In your email, please include BOTH recipients with the specified subject and details below.

  • Recipients: info@zema.org.zm, Theresa Nabuyanda, Principal Inspector Environmental Assessments; AND gm@kasanka.com, James Mwanza, Kasanka General Manager
    • It is one of our biggest concerns, that ZEMA will simply delete emails and claim to have never received them. Copying the Kasanka General Manager helps keep a record of communication. They are also planning to collate a statement with as much international support as possible. The statement will be delivered in person to the ZEMA office, and a receipt of delivery will be required.
  • Subject: Case reference no.: ‘ZEMA/INS/101/4/1’
  • Details: Please include the following statement with your personal message:
    “In reference to: “Consultation on the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment for the Proposed Integrated Farming Project in Mapepala/Nabowa Area Chitambo/Serenje Districts by Lake Agro Industries Limited.”” Please write a personal statement of opposition, which can be as simple as “I oppose the application because it seriously threatens the world’s largest remaining fruit bat population in Kasanka National Park.” 

2. SHARE this post on your social networks

3. DONATE to Kasanka to support these efforts

4. Sign and Share this petition to urge the Zambian government to resist all development that threatens Kasanka National Park and its wildlife.

These photos of straw-colored fruit bats (Eidolon helvum) from Kasanka National Park were taken in 2003. Already, this colony was facing a shortage of feeding and roosting sites. 

These bats are being forced to roost in one location for so long they've defoliated the trees unnaturally. Now, they're very susceptible to predation and overheating during extra hot weather. Here they are only about 15 feet from the ground which exposes them unnaturally to predators and makes it difficult to quickly gain flight.