The project took off from June 2022 and three phases have been completed till now with the support from the Rufford Foundation. The project site is located in the Tamakoshi River corridor in Dolakha and Ramechhap districts, Bagmati Province, central Nepal. The study area extends from the Upper Tamakoshi Hydroelectric Project (UTKHEP), Lamabagar, Dolakha (2000 m asl) to Benighat, Ramechhap (460 masl) where the Tamakoshi meets the Sunkoshi River. The project aims to sensitize the youth community in the study area for the conservation of bats through mass conservation outreach campaign. The other major objective is to assess bat assemblage and abundance along an elevational gradient in the Tamakoshi River Corridor focusing the rare bat species Myotis formosus.
Several potential sampling sites have been identified with the help of locals that include abandoned tunnels, caves and rivers/streams alongside forests along the Tamakoshi River. Bat survey has been carried out in 35 of those sites with the objective of assessing bat species richness using a number of methods such as roost search, mist-nets, harp trap, and ultrasonic call recorders. At least 12 bat species have been recorded till now, while some need genetic analysis for species confirmation. Echolocation calls of those species have been recorded in ultrasonic recorders to contribute to the echolocation call library of Nepalese bats. Acoustic survey was also carried out to assess bat activity in the area. Scheduled survey was conducted using semi-structured questionnaires in order to assess people’s basic level of knowledge about bats and information on how they perceive them. People were found to have least knowledge about bats and their importance, however, most seemed to have no problem having bats around.
Conservation outreach sessions have been conducted in schools and communities to increase the level of awareness about the role of bats in the area and formed school and youth bat clubs. Workshops and meetings will be organized in the upcoming phase of the project with the local stakeholders such as rural municipality or ward administration, youths, school children and teachers to sensitize on ecological role played by bats. Information boards about importance of bats and their habitats will be installed in areas of high bat activity in coordination with the local administration.