Another successful National Science Week at the Ditsong National Museum of Natural History took place during the 30th July to the 1st of August 2018. Each day the venue was filled with eager young minds wanting to learn new things. A total of 995 learners from 18 schools and public from the surrounding Pretoria area came to view the museum and scientific exhibitions that were on display.

AfricanBats was one of the exhibitors at the event. A display board together with a table containing examples of South Africa’s bats were on display. The AfricanBats team which included the three Department of Science and Technology – National Research Foundation interns (DST-NRF interns), Rudzani Thangambi, Sarah Oxley and Emma Swartz who are hosted with Africanbats NPC.  These three interns presented to a wide range of learners on topics surrounding bats.

Topics covered included: Reasons why bat conservation is important? Behaviours of bats (including a demonstration exercise on how female bats find their young ones), types of bats, echolocation..etc.

The learners showed great interest in the presentation and fought for the chance to participate in the exercise. Different discussions erupted after each presentation within the group depending on the myths that the learners knew about bats. They asked interesting questions that led to fun discussions on bat biology. The DST-NRF interns also had a great task at hand to correct the myths that the learners wanted clarity on with regards to bats. Funny questions such as “why do bats hang upside-down?” and “do bats eat hair?” were posed.

On one of the days, AfricanBats was the main attraction in the auditorium, with staff member Teresa Kearney, giving a presentation to the learners of two schools (123 individuals) on a basic introduction to bats.

Learners got to view preserved wet specimens up close in glass jars as well as dried specimens with their skeletons. For most, this was their first time they had ever been this close to a bat. Many of the learners surprised us with their knowledge about bats and their “self-powered flight” and their important roles in seed dispersal, pollination and insect control in the ecosystem. It was encouraging to see the enthusiasm of these potential young biologists in the making. Overall, this exhibition was an important effort to increase awareness of bat conservation and their importance.

We would like to thank the following organizations for making this possible:

Select and image and you can scroll through images from this event