The Mauritian Bat Cull… Tackling Some Illegitimate Outcries !

I may not agree to the thought of a massive, blind uncontrolled bat cull in Mauritius, but what I dislike most are the downgrading comments from some down-looking, colonial-thinking tourists who see Mauritius as their legacy and its Fauna and Flora as their property.

Watching a bat eating a fruit from your 5-star hotel window, during your 5-day honeymoon, doesn’t make you a specialist of the bat cause. Neither does the fact of having left your country for decades makes you an absolute nature lover. One may have opinions, feel sad about the killing of animals or feel pain over some environmental injustice, but in any case, shall one have the right to treat Mauritians as a bunch of mindless idiots…

It may be sad indeed…

… That local authorities even ever thought of selectively killing bats or dogs in Mauritius. But still, some foreigners should stop thinking that they are the ones who make our economy or our living, and that by such, they have the right to iterate lessons about preservation of species and how to contain sanitary threats on our grounds, when we are trying to control the source of the said threats… As if we were simplistic unconnected idiots living naked, in straw huts and eating raw meat! These well-wishers should instead, show the way in how to deal with species that have become nuisances, because the cull concept generally originates from their own countries.

Wake up calls and caring opinions are most welcome. But there’s absolutely no use blackmailing or threatening our tourism industry.

And yes! Over-sized animal populations are threats to humans. 

If you think about it, like some other species of the animal kingdom, we have been practicing preventive and power-driven culling on our own species, in forms of birth control, for example. Whenever a population was found to explode in growth, we have always been prompt at limiting its expansion, for the sake of some security. China, India and even Mauritius have all had Family Planning contingency. And like it or not, wars have played their parts in that too. So to say, culling is part of our innate survival instinct, for us, humans and for animal species.

Yes! It is sad, I do concur !

But mixing the Dodo, Monkey, Stray Dogs and Bats issues without knowledge, doesn’t help at all.

As far as I can remember, it is the Europeans who got the Dodo extinct… It is for European Pharmaceutical groups that our monkeys are exported… It is for European Luxury Shops mostly, that Crocodiles are bred here for handbags, shoes and belts… Controlling our stray dogs had become a must as the complaint flow from European tourists mostly (our major market) was ragingly growing. And what if we ever asked each tourist to adopt a Mauritian stray dog ?

I personally do not think that our Local authorities are dumb enough to indulge into the extinction of protected species, even if I may agree that some incompetence do exist at decision-making levels. In fact there is real urgency in dealing with our bats and stray dogs. It’s just about finding the best balanced solution and we, here, are in the best position to find them.

Controlling Potential Disease Vectors

For those who don’t know, we have already had controlled culling events in the past and the job was done with the collaboration of the local WWF branch, for much I can recall. Pigeon, crow and rat populations had to be downsized at some point in time, as the potential risk of zoonotic diseases (diseases that can be transmitted from animals to people) drastically augments beyond some demographic threshold. These animals didn’t go extinct, though !

Let’s not forget that bats convey highly lethal diseases linked to Nipah, Hendra, Ebola or Marburg viruses. Stray dogs can be responsible for diseases like rabies, leptospirosis, Tropical Canine Pancytopaenia (tick fever), Scabies, Ringworm and Toxoplasmosis. And worse of all things, with the global village concept, these diseases can seamlessly become tourist-borne and easily develop into a worldwide pandemic. Remember the Ebola, Bird Flu, or Swine fever episodes ?

In that sense, bats and stray dogs are really turning into real threats for human health. Should we, for the only sake of some unreasoned wildlife protection, allow uncontrolled proliferation of these potential disease vectors, that would be very much of an irresponsible stand.

I am not talking about Gratuitous Killings or Eradication, But…

Shall we wait for the first viral strains to peek out before we decide to react to a real sanitary threat? NEVER!

batsWhere I live in Quatre Bornes, we experience daily voracious devastation, by hordes of bats seen flying in, from mountains tens of miles away. The Litchi and Mango trees we have had in the family yard for 50 years now, are just decimated even before the fruits reach maturity. Everyday, that yard gets all littered with bat shit and droppings from their nightly feasts. No way for our children to go out and play safely these days.

This bizarre behavior from the bats, started less than ten years ago. We did have sporadic visits from bats during the night, but the scale has worsened to the power of 10. We used all sorts of tricks… lit electric bulbs at the top of the trees, nets, fireworks. If these were very efficient some years ago, this is no more the case nowadays. Bats have been seen flying during the day and they have learned how to cut into the nets. That’s their adaptation to unplanned urbanization and to the resulting destruction of their natural habitat, I guessed!

I am an environmentalist-minded activist and understand the need for species protection, but I also understand that their demographic control is one key solution to peaceful and safe co-existence with humans. I am not talking about useless errant hunting or some blind genocide, but from what we see here, in our everyday dealing with uncontrolled bat population growth and potential sequels on local hygiene, human health and fruit production, something must be done urgently. We are talking about tons of potentially infectious excrement being unloaded in residential zones daily (that wasn’t the case years back), we are talking about potential loss of businesses (especially for Litchi and Mango exporting companies. And I do not think that the European Union will be keen to accept live products that may have been contaminated with excessive bat excrements or bites or chemical counter-measures).

Some may think that the impact of bats on fruit growing activities might be insignificant, but fact is that they account for around 12% of losses in that sector. 12% loss is enough to get one to bankruptcy.

The Real Problem? A Badly Formulated Project Prematurely Announcement by Local Authorities!

« We will shoot down all the bats »

That’s how the message was perceived.

I read earlier this morning, in a local weekly, that around 100 bats had been downed in the northern village of Daruty. Should I rejoice? Definitely not! Should I feel comfortable with that? Absolutely not! Simple Shoot-downs do not offer long-termed balanced solution.

As mentioned earlier, I do not think that we do have an administration so dumb, that they would unilaterally indulge into the extinction of bats in Mauritius. What lacked in the project was the prime will to consult with Wildlife-related NGOs, or with patented environmentalists. Instead they priviledged responding to planters.

They wanted to act fast, but talked too swiftly, without the single idea of how to do the job in more humane and scientific way. And this problem seems to be recurrent to the strings of Mauritian governments, we’ve had for the last four decades. Civil Consultation, Preparation, Contingency Planning, seem to be secondary to their intentions. This is how their messages get a distorted and stinky output. This is the main problem. The bat case could have been geared in a more acceptable manner.

May be it is time to pressure the Government into doing things the right way, and get them to do things in a well prepared manner instead of releasing sentences and announcements that are highly misleading. This is where pressure groups should do what they are up for.

Boycotting Mauritius won’t Help Either…

Some have been calling to boycott Mauritius as a Touristic destination. Prominent states-persons like Maneka Gandhi about monkey breeding here, have added their voices to the negative flows of comments that have been made on social networks. Even if I can understand the latter’s position by connecting it to the cultural and cultual importance of the monkey in Hindu societies, I cannot relate to vociferous outcries that call for boycott. How can such calls help at resolving the problems? How can someone urge for the voluntary crippling of our tourism sector, while we are still in the process of finding rightly-balanced solutions to oncoming sanitary and economic threats?

The bat problem in Mauritius, is A REAL EVERYDAY PROBLEM that needs to be dealt with, in smart, elegant and efficient manner, with long-termed objectives, along with close monitoring from prominent wildlife-related NGOs. We really need to control their proliferation while preserving their species…

May be it would be a good idea to endorse an independent competent instance into finding the right attitudes and actions to reach a environment-friendly resolution.

Anyway, my personal call for now will to invite you to please Shout Out in the comment box below, if you do have sensible alternative ideas on how to solve the bat crisis outside a controlled and planned culling event. Otherwise, do not call for boycott, it’s useless and lowly lame!

For further understanding I recommend reading the following articles:

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