Torrevieja going batty for conservation initiatives

SUCCESS: Bat conservation programme educational and a help to the environment Photo credit: Ayuntamiento de Torrevieja

TORREVIEJA is leading the way when it comes to bat conservation.

Councillor Fanny Serrano was delighted to announce that the current programme has resulted in between 60 to 70 per cent of the specially installed boxes have been occupied, and with this week’s Halloween celebrations was the perfect time to promote the scheme.

She explained that the programme is looking to consolidate bat colonies in places that they are already established or are known to visit for food – particularly by the salt lakes – and to create some new ones.  With the cooperation of the conservation group – Lagunas de La Mata y Torrevieja – four new boxes were placed by the lake in La Mata.

Juan Antonio Pujol, a local biologist said that many bat populations had been established close to land occupied by the local sewerage plant and salt works, both locations are usually full of puddles which are breeding grounds for mosquitoes…which the local bats contribute to control.

The programme has also seen some of the boxes that haven’t been occupied for some time being cleaned; many have remained empty due to wasps taking them over for their nests.

Three boxes were installed in the IES Mare Nostrum School in May as part of its environmental education programme where pupils are encouraged to learn about the importance of these often misunderstood creatures of the night.

The drop in the populations of bats over the past 30 years or so can be explained by a lack of buildings in which they naturally set up their colonies and an increase in the use of pesticides.   However, bats are a proven source to control a number of plagues that blight the agriculture sector such as grapevine moth larvae, caterpillars, mosquitoes and other insects.  They also control the annual procession of the swarms of caterpillars that breed in local pine trees that are the scourge of dog owners everywhere.

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