PUBLIC PERCEPTIONS ABOUT THE FRUIT BATS IN TWO HORTICULTURALLY IMPORTANT DISTRICTS OF PAKISTAN
M. Mahmood-ul-Hassan, Faiz-ur-Rehman and M. Salim
Department of Wildlife and Ecology, University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Lahore 54000, Pakistan.
Corresponding author: e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
This study reflects the awareness level and public attitude towards bats in two northern districts of Pakistan that are important for their horticulture-based economy. A total of 225 persons were interviewed in Peshawar (n = 103) and Charsadda (n = 122) districts of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). 100% of the respondents were unaware of the ecological services rendered by bats and reflected a negative attitude towards them. They did neither like to eat them (99.6%) nor did they consider them to be hematophagous (blood sucking) (96.9%). Bats were of no use (98.7%) and were symbols of bad omen (78.2%). All of them (100%) refused to have bat roosts close to their house. There was a firm belief that bats feed solely on fruit, particularly persimmon Diospyros kaki (81.5%) and inflict heavy economic losses (43.8%). This aversive attitude is leading to unnecessary killing of the bats in the area and 16.4% of the respondents claim to have killed bats. Conservation education and non-consumptive wildlife-oriented tourism is needed to convince the people that superstitious beliefs and myths about the bats are baseless.
Key words: Awareness; Conservation; Food; Fruit bats; Heamatophagy; Indian flying fox; Persimmon