Bats make up a quarter of the mammalian diversity on the planet. The African continent and Madagascar and its associated islands contain about 321 extant species of bats, which comprises approximately 25% of the global bat diversity. Bats are an important component of ecosystem health and condition. They occupy a critical niche, the insectivorous species being primary nocturnal predators, while frugivorous species are critical for forest regeneration.
Many plants are dependent on these night time visitors (e.g. Baobab Adansonia), for both pollination and seed dispersal. Both groups of bats are also greatly susceptible to environmental change and are vulnerable to increased levels of pesticides. The effects of habitat and climate change on these species are unknown, and there is much speculation as to the impacts, both positive and negative. These impacts on bats have a direct impact on food security and human-related zoonotic diseases.
Of primary concern is that we know very little about the distribution, abundance or the biology of the various species. Also from a cultural perspective, bats are perceived by most African cultures as associated with dark and evil magic and are persecuted. With some of these reasons in mind, the open access quarterly journal African Bat Conservation News (ISSN 1812-1268) was established in July 2004, with the aim to create a forum where observations, notes, ideas and discussions on the conservation of bats can be voiced in a published format.