The Gibraltar Bats project was started in 2013 when a team of UK specialists led by James Shipman contacted the Gibraltar Museum, Her Majesties Government of Gibraltar; Ministry for Environment, and the Gibraltar Ornithological and Natural History Society, interested in starting a project looking at Gibraltar’s bats. Discussions led to the first meeting in November, when a licence for the project was issued by the Department for the Environment and the team came out to Gibraltar to carry out a preliminary examination of sites with the Gibraltar Museum’s Caving Unit.
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Stewart Finlayson and Tyson Holmes, from the Gibraltar Museum, Giovanni Santini from the Museum’s Caving Unit and Albert Yome from GONHS are the key members running the project locally. These four individuals have been training in bat work since 2013 and are now qualified and licenced at different levels to enter sites, handle and work with bats including netting and harp trapping. They have been undergoing an intensive training course since 2013 which was provided by James Shipman, Tom August, Iain Hysom, Sam Davies and Denise Foster.
The idea behind the project is to clearly establish what bat species are living year round in Gibraltar and what species use the Rock during certain times of the year. The project aims to educate the community on bats and also advise HM Government of Gibraltar on how to protect these endangered animals and their habitats. The project is very fortunate in getting huge support from HM Government of Gibraltar's Department of the Environment, for which we thank them tremendously.
We are working on establishing which species is where and at what time of the year that species or colony is using a particular site. With those data, we are able to advice the Government on what can be done to 1) protect those sites, 2) protect those habitats 3) protect those species and 4) encourage the species population to recover to healthy numbers.
We feel that Gibraltar has tremendous potential for bats. It is in a key geographical position between Africa and of Europe. We would like to see our data and results being put to good use and our advice used to help these animals. Our aim is to help these species increase in number to what the local colonies were like in the 1980s and before.
We also hope to educate our younger generations into seeing that these wonderful creatures are important and need to be cherished and protected.