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Greater Horseshoe Bats
The Devon Greater Horseshoe Bat Project is a 5 year project working across the county to secure a better future for the rare animal. The project is being led by the conservation charity Devon Wildlife Trust in a partnership involving 18 other organisations.
Greater horseshoe bats are a species which has seen its European population crash by 90% over the last 100 years. This has left them clinging on in just a few special landscapes and luckily Devon remains a stronghold. Our county still has a third of the 6,500 greater horseshoe bats that remain in the UK with the project focussing on 11 priority areas around key roost sites.
It’s the job of our project to conserve these roosts and safeguard the surrounding countryside that acts as vital feeding grounds for them.
Greater horseshoe are one of the UK’s biggest bat with a wingspan of almost 40cm. They were once common across southern England but changes in land-use such as urban development and a move away from cattle grazed pastures and hay meadows has led to their disappearance from much of the countryside. The project will provide advice and assistance for landowners to manage, restore and create the networks of habitats these impressive bats need, through its own grant scheme and government grants. Working with communities and schools, the project will also raise the profile of this important species, enabling everyone to play their part in conserving a species Devon can rightly be proud of. The core areas for this project in the East Devon AONB are on the coast between Beer and Sidmouth and inland around Southleigh, Northleigh and Colyton.
The project cannot provide a better future for Devon’s greater horseshoe bats alone, we need the communities that have these rare and wonderful animals in their midst to help us. That’s what makes this project so exciting. We are now looking for schools and community groups to come forward and become champions for their local bats - helping to improve bat habitats, taking part in bat detecting surveys and other citizen science initiatives, and promoting pride in their local greater horseshoe bats.
The project’s ultimate goal is to improve the landscapes that the bats need to travel through and feed in. The project will work with local farmers and communities to improve and conserve these features. This will be to the benefit not only of greater horseshoe bats but also Devon’s wider wildlife and our treasured landscapes.
The Greater Horseshoe Bat Project has its own website www.devonbatproject.orgwhere you can get lots more information including bat facts and video of the bats in their summer roosts.Anyone living close to one of our Devon greater horseshoe bat areas and who wishes to help should contact the project’s Community Engagement Officer, Helen Parr on 01392 279244 or by email on firstname.lastname@example.org
The Devon landscape is perfect for the bats.
Cattle-grazed wildflower meadows, hedges, woodland edges and streams all play a key part in the bat’s lives. They use these landscape features to navigate and travel safely. They also need them to find their favourite prey: moths and beetles.