It was believed to have been extinct, until researchers disturbed its sleep in a cave, in Rwanda’s Nyungwe forest. The fight is now on to help it go forth and multiply.
According to the Convention on Biological Diversity, up to 150 species go extinct every day. Extinction has been a natural part of the planet’s evolution history. Scientists have calculated that upwards of 99%, of the four billion species that evolved on earth, are now extinct.
But since the industrial revolution, dated from the mid eighteenth Century, human activity has wrought upon the natural world, a rate of extinction that is far from natural. Human encroachment wildlife habitats, in particular deforestation, having a devastating effect on the natural world.
Until it was found in Nyungwe, as the forest is locally known, Hill’s Horseshoe Bat, was feared to have suffered the fate of so many other species that have gone extinct.
In partnership with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), and Rwanda Wildlife Conservation Association, American non profit conservation organisation, Bat Conservation International (BCI), began a survey of Nyungwe forest, in 2013, and on one of the expeditions, in 2019, almost certainly uninvited, they entered the cave that the Hill’s horseshoe bat, had decided to call home.
Nyungwe is home to some of nature’s most spectacular creatures, including more than 300 species of birds. Yet, the Hill’s horseshoe bat, which, with its odd features, is unlikely to win any beauty contest, even among bats, sent the scientists into unbridled joy, at its sighting. As the bible did not quite say, there is more joy over one bat that had been feared extinct, than over other wonders of creation in Nyungwe forest.
With the support of Rwanda conservation, the scientists, will now embark on efforts to pull back the creature from the brink of extinction.
The bat could not have chosen a better place to try and ensure its survival. Rwanda, which is due to host the inaugural International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s Africa Protected Areas Congress (APAC), is arguably one of the world’s leading conservation success stories. Most famously, the country has pulled back the iconic mountain gorilla from joining the alarmingly, ever increasing list of critically endangered species.
If, with the help of the world’s conservation community, Rwanda can do for the Hill’s horseshoe bat, what it has done for the mountain gorilla, not say many other creatures, Nyungwe will add being home to one of the rarest, and oddest looking creatures, on its list of accolades.