UNEP/EUROBATS

Hundreds of bats returned to the wild in Ukraine

Five species of bats are known for Kharkov, the second largest Ukrainian city. Some species are very abundant both during migrations and in winter. The most numerous groups of migrating bat species (mostly noctules) are found in two large buildings in the city center, where several thousands of them hibernate each year.

During hibernation bats can wake up in order to find better climatic conditions, because of man-caused disturbance or exhaustion of fat reserves. Doing so, occasionally they can stray into the living spaces of homes and work places.

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Year after year, the number of bats found inside the buildings or picked up from the streets of Kharkov and then brought to bat workers strongly increased, from 150-200 bats in the years 2000-2003 up to 1300 bats in 2011. With help of EUROBATS Project Initiative (EPI) the local bat group has invented a regional Bat Helpline and began a public awareness campaign against killing and abuse of bats penetrating in living spaces. In December 2013 in collaboration with “Fund of Alexander Feldman” they established the first Ukranian Bat Rehabilitation Center to maintain and rehabilitate bats collected from the public. As a result, during winter 2013/2014 around 600 bats of 5 species collected upon public requests have been rehabilitated with a goal to return them to the wild. Besides Kharkov, these bats were received from other Ukrainian cities: Poltava, Kupyansk, Zmiev and Komsomolsk.

 On March 23 the most of rehabilitated bats were released during outstanding public event, organized in Feldman’s EcoPark at Kharkov’s outskirts.

Aliona Prilutskaya, the leader of the EPI project, said by phone: More than 500 bats went back to nature tonight in the presence of more than 200 people who had attended this event. We also distributed educational materials published with the help of our EPI project to give people more information about these fascinating mammals. When people are able to see alive bats they often change attitude to these creatures and are no longer afraid of them. Moreover, some people even fell in love with bats. Young nature lovers also played an important role for that, showing by their own example that bats are not dangerous and aggressive. We also talked about EUROBATS and how successful the bat conservation is now in Europe. The EUROBATS support is very important for us because when local authorities have seen a support for bat conservation from the UN they realize that attention should be paid to this issue on the national level.

The EUROBATS Projects Initiative was launched in 2008 to provide funding for small- to medium-sized bat conservation projects. Since then, it has attracted a significant number of project proposals as well as additional voluntary contributions for its operation. The maximum funding awarded per project is 10,000 EUR.

 

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