How important is Bat Pollination to us ?
In order to appreciate the help we get from bats, let us talk about something else first:
Have you heard of the Tropical Rain forests? They are called lungs of the Earth. They are huge forests full of dense trees and living beings. There may be millions of plants and insects still undiscovered in these rain forests. One out of every four medicines have ingredients that are obtained from Rain forest Trees. Amazon Rainforests are the biggest among these. They cover an area of more than 1 billion acres, larger than the whole of India which is 0.8 billion! More than half of the world’s estimated 10 million kinds of plants, animals and insects live in the tropical rain forests. Every 2.5 acres in their area may contain over 750 types of trees and 1500 kinds of higher plants. One-fifth of the world’s fresh water is in the Amazon Basin. They produce more than 20% of oxygen in the atmosphere. Look at how large and dense they look as you come closer and closer!
photo 10.1 , photo 10.2, photo 10.3
Why are we telling you about Rainforests? Because the bats, whom we are quite familiar with till now are the heroes of Rainforests! Tropical Rainforests cannot survive without bats. Large fruit bats disperse seeds across the entire rain forests. Some plants can only be pollinated by bats, even though there are other insects like bees and other birds to pollinate them. Fruits that come to us with the help of pollination of bats are : bananas, figs, mangoes and cashews. These fruits are not moving like insects. So, megabats just use their eye-sight and smell to find them and not echo-location.
See the pictures below to find them roosting and the flowers they pollinate.
photo 10.4,photo 10.6, photo 10.8
Now that you know how important bats are to us, it is sad for us to know that their numbers are falling rapidly. If there are no bats, there will be no rainforests and this would mean no oxygen to help cleanse all this pollution today. Also we won’t be able to get medicines. We will talk about rain forests in a later article and get to know how beautiful they are and how important they are to us.
Bats all over the world are at risk because we do not remember how valuable they are. Their populations have fallen because we use pesticides on the plants which is poisonous for them. Also we have destroyed many of the caves they use for roosting.
When a bat dies, it is a very serious loss to our environment. They give only one baby in an year, which is much less than other mammals. Also one bat lives upto 30 – 40 years! Very few animals this small can live this much.
Conservationists are working to protect their environments and getting people, specially children like you more aware and sensitive towards them.
But take heart : There are so many types of bats that one in every four mammals is a bat!
Bats are such magnificent creatures of Nature that they have survived as a group for more than 50 million years, longer than most other modern animals including us! They have been here on Earth for much longer than us.
Do you know how they looked like and lived millions of years ago? They didn’t have wings as they do now. If we understand how they lived then, we will come to know how did they get their wings.