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Bats said to be essential tools in research

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BatDr Bright Kankam, a lecturer at the Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG) in Kumasi, has appealed to the public to refrain from killing bats because they are important tools for research.

He said bats helped in health research and also contributed significantly to the regeneration of degraded forests.

He noted that hunting of bats for food was affecting its population making their survival uncomfortable at some areas in the country.

Dr Kankam made the appeal at a day’s seminar on bats as part of Ecotourism Week celebration at the University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR) in Sunyani.

The seminar attended by students and lecturers, was to sensitize them about bats and how to manage their sustenance at the campus without fear and panic.

Dr Kankam said there were laws against the killing of animals and anyone arrested would be prosecuted. He also pointed out that continued extinction of bats would attract national and international attention against the perpetrators.

He explained that bats are pollination agents for plants and played important role in ecology.

Dr Kankam said bats are dispersal agents for Odum and must not consider their existence at any place as a nuisance but efforts must be made to protect them.

He said about 163 plant species had been identified to benefit from their pollination.

Dr Richmond D. Suu-lre, Department of Wildlife, said even though bats were infested with antibodies such as Ebola virus, their presence in the environment did not pose risk to human health.

He said human encroachment in animal territories contributed to most diseases.

Dr Suu-Ire noted that some of the animals were not for consumption but for tourism and research, and that about 100,000 to 200,000 bats were harvested annually because about 30 to 80 per cent of the people consumed bats.

He advised people with domestic animals such as cats and dogs to vaccinate them against rabies to prevent people from contracting rabies.

Dr Suu-Ire explained that vaccination against the virus should be undertaken annually since the animals had the virus from birth and playing with children at home put their lives at risk.

He said people should not allow their dogs to roam in the communities without being vaccinated.

Source: GNA

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