Despite the socio-environmental benefits provided by bats – such as pollination, forest regeneration and pest control – their existence is under. This threat is the direct result of hunting for meat as well as human-induced loss of their forest and cave habitats through logging, agriculture mining, urbanisation, grazing and mining. This is the case with many communities in Cameroon, where Eco Relief is leading a campaign for their conservation around the Ekona community.
In recognition of these efforts, the world’s leading authority on bat conservation, Bat Conservation International, is partnering with Eco Relief to lead the campaign on awareness on the plight of bats. The first part of this partnership is in the form of a financial grant that will enable Eco Relief scale-up activities in protecting bat habitat and recovering their population from further decline as part of its ongoing conservation programme around Ekona.
This project falls within the framework of Eco Relief’s Endangered Species Conservation Programme and has as uniqueness an integrated approach that will connect conservation outcomes to sustainable development. This sustainable development is the direct socio-economic benefits accruing to members of the community in which the conservation project is being undertaken. We see this as the greatest incentive to make all our conservation efforts have the backing of the community as well as secure sustainability.
The project is targeting cocoa farmers in the community whose activities constitute a major cause of deforestation that is depleting bat habitats and driving them to extinction. This threat ranks in severity as much as the deliberate killing of bats by farmers as source of meat/additional income. This project therefore seeks to address the problem by changing farmers’ behaviour and develop their capacity to practice bat-friendly farming methods that guarantee added value in farm products and consequently secure better market prices to boost household income. It’s a win-win for bats and humans!