M.Sc. Biodiversity and Conservation
Biologist and Research Officer
Animal Health Unit, Sierra Leone Agricultural Research Institute, Teko, Makeni
Bats were created by God and are of great environmental importance. Hence, they need to be conserved!
It’s been 8 years now since I joined the network and it is a decision I am glad I made. I joined the network upon the suggestion of a friend I met while studying for a master's degree at Njala University, Sierra Leone.
With my background in biological sciences, I was interested in the work from day one. I have an interest in zoonotic disease research and bats are a close subject. Hence it was a must for me to support efforts geared towards protecting and monitoring the activities of bats in my country.
During the past years, I have participated in pieces of training, conferences and activities organized by both local and international partners that promote wildlife conservation. I have gained knowledge of the ecology and abundance of the straw-coloured fruit bats (Eidolon helvum) in Sierra Leone and for which I am truly grateful to the network.
Walking under the sun, facing abuse from people who do not think is a good idea to protect these bats and more has always been a source of motivation as my volunteering efforts have yielded yearly data on bat numbers in Freetown and Makeni.
I will continue rendering my service and expertise to the network as we all continue the work to protect these bats.
Edwin Lavalie Gina
University of Makeni
Kuyateh Drive, Makeni
I joined the network because of my passion for all things wildlife. Bats are no exception. I was motivated to work with bats when I encountered Natalie Weber during a field training she conducted on Bat ID and advanced capture techniques back in 2017. Since then, I have come to learn more about bats and how very controversial a subject they are when it comes to public health.
One in four mammals is a bat species. There are many species of bats, also housing viruses of interest to humans, the Marburg virus is one. Due to their partly colony living nature and flight potential, some of them colonize different habitats and feed on a wide range of food sources. Insect-eaters, fruit-eaters, and blood-eating bats (only in S America) give a picture of the diet of chiropterans.
Eidolons in Sierra Leone can be found in most geopolitical cities; Freetown, Makeni, and Bo are among the most important. Cotton trees are common sites for viewing these bats in most of these cities. These trees are in locations where human activities come in conflict with their normal nap time. When disturbed and stressed can be traumatic and at the same time maybe lead to them having a higher viral load as a result. Hence, monitoring these bats to know where they are and how humans interact with them is beneficial to both the bats and humans that share spaces with them.
I am happy to be part of this effort and I hope we can protect more bats as humans during this journey.
Cotton Tree and surroundings
In Freetown, the bats roost downtown. They can be found on the Cotton Tree, a famous historic landmark, as well as around the nearby State House and Victoria Park. The latter has been transformed into an amusement park. We hope for a bat-friendly way to solve potential conflicts between humans and bats at this traditional roost site, which has been used by Eidolon for decades.