New project launched to save endangered bats living in East Devon

Grey long eared bat

A grey long eared bat - Credit: East Devon AONB

The Grey long eared bat needs urgent help. With as few as 1000 bats, located in eight main maternity roosts spread across the south of England, action needs to be taken now to prevent their extinction in the UK. 

Two of the surviving maternity roosts are located in East Devon and form a vital link between the colonies in the south of England and the two colonies in south Devon. But there’s a risk of losing this link, and colonies becoming isolated, as foraging and commuting routes are fragmented by landscape changes resulting from changing agricultural practices. 

For the last three years the Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) has, as part of the Back from the Brink HLF project, helped improve foraging habitats around the known roosts in East Devon. 

A spokesperson for the East Devon AONB said: “Now we have entered into our own partnership with Bat Conservation Trust to continue this vital work, focusing on improving connectivity to the known roosts in Dorset – enhancing foraging and commuting routes to the east of the AONB and into the neighbouring county. The risk with colonies becoming increasingly isolated is that there is no mixing of genetic materials between colonies, which is vital for the long-term survival of the species. 

“Together, we made a bid to the government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund for £69K to support our collaborative ‘Return of the true Night Rider’ project and help us involve local communities, individuals and groups in conservation action. 

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“We are thrilled to announce that our bid was successful and we’re hugely excited about what it will enable us to achieve through the Return of the true Night Rider project, at a time when the need for urgent action to tackle the decline in biodiversity has never been greater.” 

“We have also set ourselves a challenging target of talking to 500 local people about the bats, the challenges that they face and the importance of floristically rich grassland,” added the spokesperson. 

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The target parishes are: Musbury, Colyton, Colyford, Shute, Kilmington, Combpyne and Rousdon, Uplyme, part of Axminster, Hemyock, Lyme Regis, Charmouth, Wootton Fitzpaine and Catherston Leweston. The project will run until March 2022. 

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