Kolar leaf-nosed bats are among the rarest species in the world, good for the ecosystem. They are on the verge of extinction if awareness and precautions are not taken.
Two years ago, the rare Kolar leaf-nosed bat from Karnataka was discovered by a team of scientists from Osmania University and Biodiversity Research and Conservation Society, Hyderabad. Grave concern is shown at the dwindling number of this endemic Hipposideros hypophyllus. Currently, it is known to be an endemic of one cave in Hanumanahalli village in Kolar district, Karnataka. Environmentalists of Kolar are readying themselves to stand against the administration's decision. They have allowed quarrying for the production of M-sand in the Devarayasamudra hillocks.
Environmentalist and former CMC councilor KN Thyagaraju has stated that this decision to allow quarrying activities has affected the ecology of the area and the bats' habitat. Attempts to start quarrying have been stopped by the villagers. They flocked to the hills and put forward demonstrations. he also added that an NGO is planning to develop a bird park in the area. If quarrying is allowed, then blasting and other activities would hamper such good initiatives. The rainwater that collects in the hilly region fills over 50 waterbodies. Thyagaraja further alleged that over 20 villages will be affected by the quarrying.
The gram panchayats are also not in favor of the administration's decision.
A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed in Karnataka high court. The court has issued notices to district authorities. Maksood Ahmed, the superintendent at the district mines and geology department, said they have not yet received any notice from the HC. Whenever they will receive it, a suitable reply would be given.
This bat species was originally sighted at two caves of Therahalli in Kolar taluk and Hanumanahalli in Mulbagal taluks. They were gradually reduced to one cave in the latter area. It has been categorized as "critically endangered" on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.
The Chiropteran (Bat) Research team had found another rare species, the Durga Das' leaf-nosed bat. They were discovered at both Therahalli and Hanumanahalli. The Hipposideros durgadesi was so far known only from three villages in Jabalpur district, Madhya Pradesh.
Bats are among the least studied mammals in India, though being 130 species in the country. Kolar Leaf-nosed bats are among the rarest bats leaf-nosed bats in the world. Uniqueness being that it possesses only one pair of supplementary leaflets instead of two, three, or none. It is estimated that only 200-300 bats of this species are alive. These bats are farmer-friendly and vital for the ecology. Being nocturnal, they help the farmers in controlling pests and insects that appear at night. They help humans by eating mosquitoes, the carrier of several diseases.
They are on the verge of extinction due to careless and illegal granite quarrying in the area. Habitat loss also occurs due to land-use change and hunting.
Stone quarrying is a major threat to the habitat of these creatures. They have disappeared from one of their homes, we cannot afford to lose them a second time.
There is an immediate need to stop the quarrying activities in those regions to prevent further extinction. Earlier, the team of zoologists headed by DR C Srinivasulu was able to ensure that a ban for stone quarrying was imposed in a 5-kilometer radius. They were able to achieve their goal by creating persistent pressure on the forest department. A wide awakening among the people is required to protect this small rare creature. There is an ardent appeal by the scientists to preserve the Kolar bats.