At least 250 bats were scorched to death in Dahod district’s Devgadh Baria town, forest officials said Saturday. The flying foxes dropped dead from two banyan trees along a lake and a temple of Lord Shiva – the only location where the mammals nest.
Forest officials have sought help from the fire department to create “artificial rain showers” to save the surviving bats from the bout of scorching summer. R B Jadav, Range Forest Officer of Devgadh Baria, said that the mammals have the capacity to bear temperatures up to 40 degrees Celsius, beyond which they suffer severe dehydration.
Jadav told The Sunday Express, “This is the first time that such a large number of bats have died during the summer as the temperatures have risen beyond normal range. On Friday, with the help of the local civic body, we disposed of the carcasses by burying them with salt, as per the procedure.”
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The forest department has sought help from the fire officials to ensure that the other bats at the location are safe. “We have asked the fire department to spray water that will help cool them off. Since they are only found at one location, it is not a problem to do that,” Jadav said.
Officials have also warned residents against touching bats as they carry potential viruses. Sometimes, the bat may not actually be dead, but just exhausted due to dehydration. On Saturday, forest officials rescued two such bats from the same location that had dropped from the tree due to the soaring mercury levels. “We thought they were dead, but when we sprinkled some water on them, they rose after a while and flew back to the tree,” Jadav said.
A zoological expert said that bats struggle in high temperatures, particularly in areas with low humidity and sparse vegetation. “The bats flap their wings to try to cool themselves and that, in turn, drains out more of their energy. Most bats would not survive a day of heatstroke as their capacity to regulate body temperature is very minimal,” Jadav said.