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Creatures of the night: Protecting bats in Bosnia & Herzegovina

<p> A bat rests within a cave in the Neretva River Catchment Area. © Centar za krš i speleologiju<span></span> </p>

Things are getting batty! Not only is October recognized as Bat Appreciation Month, but it's also Bat Week from October-31.

As creatures of the night, bats are often feared. Most people don't realize the importance of bats, which are keystone species for people and biodiversity, acting as pollinators, helping control pests and dispersing seeds.

Several species of bats find refuge in Bosnia and Herzegovina's caves, but their conservation status is unknown and no legislation exists to protect bats and their habitat. With support from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) through its investment in the Mediterranean Basin biodiversity hotspot, the Center for Karst and Speleology (CKS) created a network of volunteer bat monitors to provide accurate data on the occurrence and activity of bat species in the Neretva River Catchment that is being collated into national and international databases.

CKS also raised awareness among the general public, tourists, the scientific community and the government about the positive contributions and threats to bat species living in the caves of the country's karst region. To encourage the participation of the scientific community and foster a new generation of experts in bat conservation, CKS coordinated a contest for the best professional manuscript on bats in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Read the winning manuscripts.

A group of bats hanging in a cave in the Neretva River Catchment Area. © Centar za krš i speleologiju

A group of bats hanging in a cave in the Neretva River Catchment Area. © Centar za krš i speleologiju

Volunteers raise awareness about the importance of bats in the Neretva Ricer Catchment Area. © Centar za krš i speleologiju

Volunteers raise awareness about the importance of bats in the Neretva Ricer Catchment Area. © Centar za krš i speleologiju

A bat is carefully examined by a volunteer in the Neretva River Catchment Area. © Centar za krš i speleologiju

A bat is carefully examined by a volunteer in the Neretva River Catchment Area. © Centar za krš i speleologiju

A bat rests within a cave in the Neretva River Catchment Area. © Centar za krš i speleologiju

A bat rests within a cave in the Neretva River Catchment Area. © Centar za krš i speleologiju

Established in 2000, the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) is a global leader in enabling civil society to participate in and influence the conservation of some of the world's most critical ecosystems. CEPF is a joint initiative of l'Agence Française de Développement (AFD), Conservation International, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the Government of Japan, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the World Bank.