The five day – Introduction to bat biology, ecology, conservation and identification course was held at the Ditsong National Museum of Natural History (2-6 October 2017). Ten students from three institutions (AfricanBats NPC, University of Pretoria and University of South Africa) representing three countries (Democratic Republic of the Congo (1), South Africa (8) and Zimbabwe (1)) attended the course. The mornings comprised mainly lectures that spanned different topics, providing the foundational information on bats. Afternoon sessions were practical hands on exercises – where student worked with dry and wet study material to learn and compare characteristics for identification.
For three evenings, capture practicals were undertaken on the University of Pretoria Experimental Farm, University of Pretoria. Students could assist with setting up of mist-nets and observe the capture and removal of bats. Four individuals of two species Cape Serotine (Neoromicia capensis) and Rusty Bat (Pipistrellus rusticus) were caught. Bats were measured, sexed, age and reproductive status recorded. On release, the echolocation calls of each individual were recorded on a Walkabout bat detector.
After a day of learning more about echolocation and use of bat detectors. Thursday evening, students had the opportunity to walk around the main campus of the University of Pretoria, with different types of bat detectors. We were fortunate to hear and observe the territorial calls of the male Epauletted Fruit Bats (Epomophorus sp.). Students were encouraged to observe the bats flight in relation to how the bat calls change based on what they had learned about the clutter continuum.
Without the support of the following organizations, this training event could not have been possible: