THE AFRICAN FRUIT BAT
The African Fruit Bat (Eidolon helvum,), also known as Flying Fox and many other names, is an endangered species of the Pteropodidae bat family. It is highly endangered in the rainforests of Ughelli-South Local Government Area (county) cluster villages due to deforestation and threats from humans who consider it a bird of bad omen. The Akpọ rẹ Ufuoma Development Initiative (AUDI) is bent on saving this bird , which helps to keep the environmental balance through natural afforestation.
The natural habitat of the Fruit Bat is gradually getting lost to deforestation. Activities of local farmers like unsupervised bush burning, logging, and bush clearing has caused the forests to disappear. Additionally, local people in over sixty villages consider the bat a bird of bad omen. They consider it sign of evil and witchcraft if it is found near the homes of human beings. It is hunted and killed as such.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red List (http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/7084/0) considers the population of the Fruit Bat as generally decreasing and Near Threatened. The agency report on the bat includes the following:
“Listed as Near Threatened because this species is in significant decline (but at a rate of less than 30% over three generations (approximately fifteen years)) because it is being seriously over-harvested for food and medicine, making the species close to qualifying for Vulnerable. Under criterion A2d.”
The international environmental conservation agency also indicates that the Fruit Bat is even hunted for food and medicinal use in other West African geographic locations.
THE USEFULNESS OF FRUIT BATS
However, the Fruit Bat is an agent of natural afforestation. The fruits of trees they eat and spit out or excrete contain seeds. The bats disperse these seeds, which grow to become new trees in the forest. Their faeces also act as valuable addictive to fertilizers. And the trees that grow from their faeces provide the green air we enjoy.
NATURAL BIODIVERSITY AND ECONOMIC ACTIVITIES IN THE NIGER-DELTA
The cluster area, which this project covers, comprises of drainage basins, wetlands, mangrove swamp forests, coastal barrier islands, lowland forests and freshwater swamps. It is a natural habitat to many species of flora and fauna. Fishing, farming, trading in cash crops and hunting are the traditional occupation of the people of the Niger-Delta region.
However, the presence and activities of many multinational oil companies, including natural gas flaring and oil spillage contributes to the health hazards, arms struggle and economic hardship of the region.
We plan to conserve the environment, partly by conserving the Fruit Bat. We plan to construct Bat shelters in four different locations, catch and breed at least six hundred bats and reintroduce their offspring into the wild.
We are collaborating with local communities and grassroots organizations in combating myths about the bat and spreading ecological conservation education in over twenty villages in two Local Government Areas.
This project aims at saving the African Fruit Bat of the Niger-Delta region of southern Nigeria. The cluster villages and towns that will benefit from this project are the rural communities in Ughelli-South and Ughelli-North Local Government Areas (counties) of Delta State of Nigeria. These include Eghwu, Arhavwarien, Okparabe, Ighwrokpe, Oviri-Olomu, Okpare, Ovwor, Agbon-Olomu, Oto-Ughievwen, Okwagbe, Evwreni, Ughelli, Ughwerun, Unenurhie, Edjekota, Oviri-Ogo, Oto-Ogo, Agbarha-Oto, Orogun, Oto-Udu, Abraka, Isiokolo, Oleh, Olomoro, and Oto-Iyede.