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Field Story 2 – Bat Radio Tracking Experience in Silinge (Chure Range)

Written by : Kritagya GyawaliA� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� With the commitment to our organization a�?BAT FRIENDS POKHARAa�? a�� studenta��s green group of Institute of Forestry, Pokhara, I along with my friend Basant Sharma, got this startling opportunity to gain a field experience in a�?Bat Radio-tracking in Chure, Nepala�?. It was under the PREDICT project by Center for Molecular Dynamics Nepal (CMDN). From our seniors at organization and with the continuous guidance from Sir Dr. Pushpa Raj Acharya, we enthralled on this journey of bat research. Our main task was to survey the status of Diploknema butyraceae, a�?Chiuria�? in Nepali, in Silinge village (Chepang dominated area) of Makawanpur district and exploration of Nohak cave in Dhading district as well as tracking Rousettus leschenaultia (a species of fruit bat) from Silinge village to discover the cave.A�

Twig of Chiuri showing buds and flowers.A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� Credit: Basant SharmaA� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A�A�We observed three flowering stages of Chiuri in the area. Budding is the first stage and when bud gets matured, it turns into flower. Flowering period runs for 10-15 days depending on nature of tree species, sunlight, aspect and altitude. The last stage is flowering off, in which flower turns white to light brown in color, detach from twigs and fall into ground producing small immature fruit in each pollinated flower. Thus, formed fruit will take nearly 3 months of time period to get mature and ripe. Silinge as well as nearby landscape were majorly dominated by ‘Chiuri’ forest. The motive of locals on planting the Chiuri was to increase the bee farming (as flowers of Chiuri secrete sugary nectar which attracts bees), supply raw use for fulfilling demand over firewood and timber and thus increase their economic standard by selling various Chiuri products such as honey, oils, fruits, alcohol, soaps and woody items. Chiuri is one of the ultimate food resources for fruit bats in Nepal. They depend on Chiuri twice a year; one during flowing period as feeds on sugary nectar and another during fruiting period as feeds on ripe fruits. These two periods in Chiuri dominated forest is the most challenging and difficult situation for fruits bats as they are hunted for bush meat in large population each year by a�?Chepang and Tamanga�? community. This community is distributed throughout the Chure range of Chitwan, Makawanpur, Gorkha and Dhading district and all around these areas fruit bats are traditionally hunted. Locally prepared handmade net was used to capture the bats by local people. Every night in flowering and fruiting period, locals used to set up nets in Chiuri plant and wait passionately till 3 am of morning to capture bats. They consume bat meat with their family members, sell to other people at 150 rupees per bat (current price) and transport to local hotels and even in city areas. An estimation of total annual loss in fruit bats number from those districts is nearly around 3000-5000 individuals. This community has been hunting bats since decades and estimation loss in bat numbers from past till now is in unimaginable figure. Nowadays, numbers of bats that arrive to forage in Chiuri plant has been tremendously reduced in comparison to past which has highly affected the pollination; resulting in reduction in amount of fruits production. Local community also strongly agreed that they have very low rate of bat capture and low fruit production as compared to past.A�A�

Dried meat of fruit bats killed by Chepang community.A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A�Credit: Basant SharmaA� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A�A�Rousettus leschenaultia is a cave dwelling bat. It generally roosts forming a colony of large numbers ranging from hundreds to thousands. They have been foraging around this landscape in large numbers each year since past decades which resembles their population in the landscape is quite higher and there is presence of numerous caves which hosts suitable habitat for R. leschenaultia. CMDN had previously discovered some caves in the landscape but none of them A�seemed to host the population of R. leschenaultia. One cave on their list was remained to investigate a�?The Nohak Cavea�?. This cave is believed to be one of the largest cave in South Asia. The tough road track as well as the distant from human settlements has blocked the tourism. Hardly ever, few peoples have managed to travel. We were off to explore the exact location of cave and check either cave hosts a colony of R. leschenaultia or not. That is how our journey begun to Nohak Cave.A�A�

R. leschenaultia (a fruit bat)A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� Credit: Basant SharmaA� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A�A�After the first work accomplished, we headed for Nohak cave of Dhading district. We took a jeep from Silinge to Charkilla of Chitwan district and had challenging trek from the hill of Charkilla to Nohak cave of Dhading district. The trail was really tough than we expected. It took two days to reach in the nearest village of cave. The locals there gave us accommodation facility in the church. Yes, all the community people followed the religion a�?Christianitya�?. Next day we headed for the a�?Nohak cavea�? with the guidance of the mid-aged local Tamang man. The trail had been set as a touristic approach. It was such an audacious one; trail as well as the cave. We took the GPS point and went inside the cave. It was unique in every way possible. The rocks, textures and religious marks made the cave really an astonishing place. However, sadly cave didna��t have any sign of presence of fruit bats. We stayed till the evening in the cave and evening emergence count was conducted to understand the population of other cave dwelling insectivorous bat species and returned to church as well as returned to Silinge next day. A�A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A�

Silinge village of Makawanpur (The Chepang village)A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� Credit: Basant SharmaA� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A�A�After returning back to Silinge, Dr. Pushpa Raj Acharya and senior Arjun Rijal joined us and planned for the radio-tracking of R. leschenaultia as well as made our instruments all ready to use. The aims of radio-tracking were to identify their home (cave), home range and their movement along the landscape from foraging ground to cave. Altogether, 4 individuals of R. leschenaultia were tagged throughout the project period from Silinge (2 during fruiting season and 2 during flowering season). We participated during flowering season as previous tagging remained unsuccessful. Mist nets were set up under the canopy of Chiuri plant to capture the bat. One healthy male and female bat of weight exceeding more than 100 gram each were attached a radio tag and released back into the forest after fulfilling all necessary procedure. Rest remaining days were spent on tracking a bat. We spent nearly 15 days to collect the sound and moved all around the Chiuri dominated forest. Unluckily, no sound was recorded except the sound from tagging night where we tracked a bat for 2 hours after releasing it. The project remained as unsuccessful for second time too and terminated.A�

Team at work: Fedding sugar solution to captured batA� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A�Credit: Basant SharmaA� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A�There are few reasons behind the failure of project:A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A�A�
1) As area has high intensity of bat hunting activities during fruiting and flowering season, tagged bat might have been captured by locals while returning back to cave and moving along landscape.A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A�A�
2) The tracking instrument we used didna��t have a good quality range of recognizing sound and if any obstacle occurred (cliff, valley, and dense trees) sound couldna��t be heard. Instead of radio tracking, satellite tracking could have been better option.A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A�A�
3) The terrain property of area is very tough, sloppy and we covered relatively very low area to follow the track due to ridges and depression which consumed our crucial night time.A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A�A�

Tracking radio-tagged bat in nightA� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A�Credit: Arjun RijalA� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A�A�This field visit has been very productive for me as well as my friend. For the first time, we learned to set up a mist net, handle the bat and had an amazing radio-tracking experience in one of the toughest landscape of Nepala��s geography. This field visit encouraged and motivated us to carry out future research activities in bats as well as for our nature. For that, we want to extend our gratitude to Nepal Bat Research and Conservation Union (NeBRCU) for providing us field experience and technical support during the field visit, CMDN for supporting this project and selecting us as a field researcher. Our sincere appreciation goes to Dr. Pushpa Raj Acharya and senior Arjun Rijal for their support and guidance. Many thanks to my friend Basant Sharma who has been always together during the field visit and works. We cannot remain silent without thanking a�?Chepang and Tamang Communitya�? of Silinge and Nohak cave for arranging accommodation and fooding facilities.A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A�
Furthermore, if you have any queries regarding our field visit you can contact through:A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� Gmail:A�gyawali.kritagya@gmail.comA� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� Facebook:A�https://www.facebook.com/kritagya.gyawaliA� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A�