Posts Tagged ‘Painted Bat’

Young researchers explain sights and sounds of Lankan bats

October 13, 2019 published on SundayTimes on 13.10.2019

As fans celebrated well-loved cartoon character Batman’s 80th birthday worldwide, two young Sri Lankan researchers say bats are master pathfinders and get at their prey by using echolocation which involves emitting sound and then analysing the reflected sonar signal captured through special sensors.

The Sunday Times met the two researchers at the Association of Tropical Biology and Conservation’s Asia Pacific chapter (ATBC-AP) conference which was concluded recently in Thulhiriya.

“Different bat species emit signals with different frequencies in echolocation and these can be used to identify them in the field,” said Tharaka Kusuminda whose trailblazing research has led him to decipher the patterns of the Painted Bat’s call.

He said it was the first time that the Painted Bat’s eco-sounding had been deciphered and the second occasion that such a method had been used in the world. “Previously we needed to have visual evidence or need to catch the bat to find out conclusively whether a species is presence in one location. But we can now record the bat sounds in any area in Sri Lanka and can find out the presence of the Painted Bat in those locations by analysing bat sounds” said Mr. Kusuminda.

Gayan Mithra Edirisinghe

Explaining that this technique was increasingly being used to monitor distribution of bats around the world, Mr. Kusuminda said his team had also deciphered the patterns of echolocation of other Sri Lankan bats and was continuing to do so for other species.

Sri Lanka is home to 31 species of bats. Most bats being insectivorous feed on insects. There are also four species of fruit bats. A majority of bats – especially the insectivorous bats, use ecolocation techniques to navigate, said Mr. Kusuminda.

The painted bat (Kerivoula picta) — with an orange head and orange markings on its wings — is probably the most beautiful bat species in Sri Lanka. Painted bats prefer to make dried banana leaves their hideouts and come out in the evening. They seem to be having a good distribution in Sri Lanka. The lack of confirmed records had been a major drawback in establishing their distribution, but the new technique would be helpful to map their distribution, Mr. Kusuminda said.

It is only a few years ago that the 31st bat species in Sri Lanka was discovered by bat researcher Gayan Mithra Edirisinghe. It was a chance encounter.

The Painted Bat sometimes found in home gardens as well

“While studying bats in Maduru Oya area, we came across a roadkill. A bat had hit a speeding vehicle and had been crushed by its wheels. As its characters were different from other known bats, we carried out further studies. The research showed that it had features similar to an East Asian bat species called Phoniscus jagorii. So the new species was named as Phoniscus cf. jagorii. The ‘cf’ — meaning ‘closer to’ — was added to the name, since science needs more studies to distinguish them as a separate species.

The species has even been assessed for an inclusion in the upcoming Red List of threatened fauna. Mr. Edirisinghe said he was confident that this particular bat was a new species. But he said more research was required to establish this.

In an average home garden, a number of bat species can be observed. “Of the 31 bat species, only four feeds on fruits while the others are insectivorous. The insectivorous bats particularly feed on harmful insects. They consume a large number of mosquitoes in one night; so they are actually our friends’ Mr. Ediriweera said.


The Painted Bat – the most beautiful bat in Sri Lanka

Tharaka Kusuminda studying a bat speciman

Curious humans take upside down view of orange-hued flyer

December 25, 2016

Beauty becomes a curse – a painted bat becomes a public attraction in Eppawala, Madiyawa 2012 – pure harrasment to the little creature (c) Internet

An attractive bat that is rearely seen, is best left alone if you find one hanging from a tree in your garden, researchers have appealed following media reports that have generated a buzz.

This week, news reports said an orange colored bat had been sighted in Thalgaswewa, Kanthale at a corn farm by its owner. After a three-hour struggle, the creature had been captured, the reports added. Amused villagers gathered en masse to take a look at the unusal specimen.

“This is not a new species, but a painted bat, scientifically categorized as kerivoula picta. It is a beautiful bat with a body color of bright orange with black wings and orange along the fingers. They also possess long, wooly, rather curly hair,” bat researcher Prof Vipula Yapa of the University Colombo said. The painted bat is a small creature with body length of between three centimetres and 5.5 cm. It feeds on insects.

“This bat can be found mostly in the low country dry zone – specially in areas such as Udawalawe and Embilipitiya, where there are banana plantations. During the day time, these bats hide among withered banana leaves,” says another bat researcher Gayan Edirisinghe. “Because the painted bat is mostly associated with banana plantations, it is also known as by the Sinhala name ‘visithuru kesel wavula’.

The painted bat usually flies out of its hiding place as dusk falls to begin hunting for food. They may often visit home gardens, but because people are not observant, they rarely notice the bat. But when they see it, this often leads to attempts to capture the creature in the mistaken belief it is a new species. Usually, it leads to the death of the creature.

The Kanthale bat found this week had been due to be handed over to the Department of Wildlife Conservation office in Kanthale. But when the Sunday Times contacted the office, no one had not heard of it.

“The painted bat is not that common, but they should be left alone. People should not try to catch them. Handling them badly can lead to death,” bat researchers plead. “It is also illegal to catch them.”

The painted bat is categorized as ‘near threatened’ by the Red List 2012. Sri Lanka is home to 30 different bat species. Nearly 20 of them feed on insects. These bats help to control the insect population.

Published on SundayTimes on 18.12.2016


Painted Bat (Kerivoula picta) in its ideal habitat (c) Gayan Edirisinghe

Painted bat hit on vehicle Kanthale - Trinco stretch in 2011 (c) 2 Devsiri Peiris

Painted bat hit on vehicle Kanthale – Trinco stretch in 2011 (c) Devsiri Peiris