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Bats are Cool: Conservation Week at Waikato Museum

‘Bats are Cool’ is the theme for Conservation Week at Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato in Hamilton this week.

Visitors can try out giant artificial bat ears to discover what it means to have sensitive hearing. People can also book to attend a Waikato Biodiversity Forum workshop at the Museum on ‘Why are bats cool and how can we help them?’

Waikato Biodiversity Forum coordinator Sam McElwee says: It’s 50 years since Conservation Week was first launched in New Zealand.

“The week encourages people to take practical actions to look after our environment. Bats are a unique part of the urban landscape in Hamilton and we can take steps to help them through predator control, tracking and monitoring, and enhancing bat habitats through gully restoration and preserving both native and exotic trees.”

He says Hamilton is one of two cities in New Zealand which supports a resident population of our threatened long-tailed bats (Chalinolobus tuberculatus).

“They roost in tall native trees in our southern gully systems and riparian margins, using the Waikato River as a commuting corridor. Even though Hamilton’s long tailed bats are a ‘nationally critical’ species, it’s exciting the latest research is showing they are adapting well to roosting in exotic trees and even artificial bat boxes.”

The free two-hour workshop on Friday (20 September) will include:

• Information about New Zealand’s unique bat species, including their place in the ecosystem, habitats and conservation issues.
• Latest results of long-term Hamilton-wide bat research contracted by Project Echo, a multi-agency advocacy group for Hamilton bats.
• A demonstration of bat monitoring techniques and how artificial bat boxes work.

Waikato Museum Director Cherie Meecham says: “Conservation of our natural heritage is allied with the work we do to sustain our cultural heritage. We’re pleased to help support public awareness of this work with the popular bat tours we run in spring and autumn each year.”

While the workshop is free, bookings are essential as spaces are limited for this event which is also supported by Momento City Cafe. Details can be found on the Museum website www.waikatomuseum.co.nz

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