The Vanuatu Environmental Science Society (VESS) conducted an exhibition on Bats in Vanuatu at the Alliance Francaise last week.

VESS Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Christina Shaw said the exhibition featured 12 species of bats in the country.

“We are trying to make people aware of the different types of bats in Vanuatu, some are endemic to Vanuatu, meaning they only live in Vanuatu and nowhere else and others that are threatened with extinction,” she said.

CEO Shaw said that they want to educate the public on what bats do, the roles they play in the ecosystem, the way they are under threat and how we can help.

She said the exhibition is part of the a VESS bat project. The project seeks to address the Banks flying fox or bat and to allow the community to help out in conserving it as it is under threat, and also to continue advocacy after the project.

Ms Shaw said they chose bats because bats are very interesting as they are the only native mammal in Vanuatu and play a very special role.

“It is really important that people understand what bats do for us,” she said.

“A bat is not just something that flies in the air. There are two types of bats, one which is bigger, they are really important for the pollinating fruit trees and other plants, meaning that some fruit trees are only pollinated by bats and certain species of bats and without them, we wouldn’t have a lot of fruits. They are important in areas such as logging process as bats can drop seeds to re-establish forest.

“The little micro bats usually live in caves and come about at night. The feed on insects, including pests that carry diseases such as mosquitoes. They also eat pests that attack root crops which plays an important role for humans.”

She said bats often do not have great reputations in our societies, where bats are associated with vampires and Halloweens, causing people to fear them.

Ms Shaw said VESS wants to change that perception because bats are friends and they play an important role in the ecosystem.