In recognition of the World Endangered Species Day 2017, the Silhouette Community participated on 10th May in a lively presentation forum with ICS and Dr Rachel Bristol on one of the island’s unique and Critically Endangered species, the Seychelles Sheath-tailed Bat.
With a population of less than 100 bats, found only on Silhouette and Mahe in Seychelles, the Seychelles Sheath-tailed Bat, Sousouri Bannann in Creole, is also an Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (or EDGE) species, unique and different from all other bats and well deserving of research and conservation efforts. As an insectivorous bat, Sousouri Bannann help to keep nocturnal beetle, moth, midge and mosquito populations in check without the use of harmful pesticides.
During the forum, ICS and Dr. Rachel Bristol showed a presentation and short movie to everyone about the Sousouri Bannann. Then, community members shared their memories of the bats, which were once far more numerous in Seychelles and previously also found on Praslin and La Digue. Threats and possible solutions to their decline were discussed and the community expressed their enthusiasm for being involved as citizen scientists in conservation efforts going forward.
We in Seychelles recognise our role as global guardians of some amazing, endemic species. ICS in collaboration with UNDP, GEF Small Grants Programme, Government of Seychelles and the Silhouette Foundation is dedicated to conservation actions to protect these species and their habitats. Current conservation efforts for Sousouri Bannann focus on locating and protecting roosts and foraging grounds, monitoring and community awareness raising, and further study to better understand best practice in caring for this species.
ICS would like to thank the Islands Development Company and the Silhouette Community for participating to this event and helping to organize it! The success of this event shows how important it is to involve members from the community in conservation efforts. We encourage everyone interested to learn more about Sousouri Bannann and Silhouette to visit our Conservation Centre and enjoy the beauty of the island.
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If you are concerned about our planet’s biodiversity, its species and their habitats, here are some things you can do (with thanks to www.endangered.org):
1. Learn about endangered species in your area. Teach your friends and family about the wonderful wildlife, birds, fish and plants that live near you. The first step to protecting endangered species is learning about how interesting and important they are. Our natural world provides us with many indispensable services including clean air and water, food and medicinal sources, commercial, aesthetic and recreational benefits.
2. Visit a national wildlife refuge, park or other open space. These protected lands provide habitat to many native wildlife, birds, fish and plants. Scientists tell us the best way to protect endangered species is to protect the places where they live. Get involved by volunteering at your local nature centre or wildlife refuge. Go wildlife or bird watching in nearby parks. Wildlife related recreation creates millions of jobs and supports local businesses.
3. Make your home wildlife friendly. Secure rubbish in shelters or bins with locking lids, feed pets indoors and lock pet doors at night to avoid attracting wild animals into your home. Reduce your use of water in your home and garden so that animals that live in or near water can have a better chance of survival. Disinfect bird baths often to avoid disease transmission.
4. Native plants provide food and shelter for native wildlife. Attracting native insects like bees and butterflies can help pollinate your plants. In Seychelles, fruit bats and birds are also vital pollinators. The spread of non-native species has greatly impacted native populations around the world. Invasive species compete with native species for resources and habitat. They can even prey on native species directly, forcing native species towards extinction.
5. Herbicides and pesticides may keep yards looking nice but they are in fact hazardous pollutants that affect wildlife at many levels. Many herbicides and pesticides take a long time to degrade and build up in the soils or throughout the food chain. Predators such as bats and owls can be harmed if they eat poisoned animals. Some groups of animals such as amphibians are particularly vulnerable to these chemical pollutants and suffer greatly as a result of the high levels of herbicides and pesticides in their habitat. For alternatives to pesticides, visit http://www.beyondpesticides.org.
6. Slow down when driving. Many animals live in developed areas and this means they must navigate a landscape full of human hazards. One of the biggest obstacles to wildlife living in developed areas is roads. Roads divide habitat and present a constant hazard to any animal attempting to cross from one side to the other. So when you’re out and about, slow down and keep an eye out for wildlife.
7. Recycle and buy sustainable products. Buy recycled paper and sustainable products to protect forest species. Never buy furniture made from wood from rainforests. Recycle your mobile phones, because a mineral used in cell phones and other electronics is mined in gorilla habitat. Minimise your use of palm oil because forests where tigers live are being cut down to plant palm plantations.
8. Never purchase products made from threatened or endangered species. Overseas trips can be exciting and fun, and everyone wants a souvenir. But sometimes the souvenirs are made from species nearing extinction. Avoid supporting the market in illegal wildlife including: tortoise-shell, ivory, coral. Also, be careful of products including fur from tigers, polar bears, sea otters and other endangered wildlife, crocodile skin, live monkeys or apes, most live birds including parrots, macaws, cockatoos and finches, some live snakes, turtles and lizards, some orchids, cacti and cycads, medicinal products made from rhinos, tiger or Asiatic black bear.
9. Harassing wildlife is cruel and illegal. Shooting, trapping, or forcing a threatened or endangered animal into captivity is also illegal and can lead to their extinction. Don’t participate in this activity, and report it as soon as you see it to your local state or federal wildlife enforcement office.
10. Protect wildlife habitat. Perhaps the greatest threat that faces many species is the widespread destruction of habitat. Scientists tell us the best way to protect endangered species is to protect the special places where they live. Wildlife must have places to find food, shelter and raise their young. Logging, oil and gas drilling, over-grazing and development for hotels, resorts and housing all result habitat destruction. Endangered species habitat should be protected and these impacts minimised.
By protecting habitat, entire communities of animals and plants can be protected together. Parks, wildlife refuges, nature reserves and other open space should be protected near your community. Open space also provides us with great places to visit and enjoy. Support wildlife habitat and open space protection in your community. When you are buying or building a house, consider your impact on wildlife habitat.