Viewpoint set up near Bagma forest office; at present, about 5,000 bats taking shelter in 40-50 Andaman padauk trees -- an ideal site for resting of the mammals
Agartala: In a move to attract more tourists to the state, the tourism department and the state forest department of Tripura have set up a ‘bat view point’ at Bagma in Gomati district, about 55 km from state capital Agartala.
Speaking with reporters, Udaipur sub-divisional forest officer (SDFO) H Vignesh said that the ‘bat viewing point’ has been set up at Bagma, just beside National Highway-8 that connects Agartala and Udaipur, the district headquarters of Gomati district.
“The bat viewing point was set up beside the Bagma forest office since there are many Andaman padauk trees (Pterocarpus dalbergioides), which are not otherwise native, in the area. The trees are extremely tall and are an ideal site for the resting of the mammals,” the SDFO said.
Bats are very important to maintain the ecological balance, so the state government is taking initiatives and plans are being made to save those bats and also develop this place as a tourist destination.
“The view point was set up in May. At present, there are around 5,000 bats taking shelter in about 40-50 Andaman padauk trees. We are also keeping a close eye and monitoring them from time to time,” Vignesh added.
He also said these bats are also known as ‘flying foxes’. The Indian flying fox is also known as the greater Indian fruit bat and is a species of flying fox found in South Asia. It is one of the largest bats in the world. This species is often regarded as vermin due to its destructive tendencies towards fruit farms, but the benefits of its pollination and seed propagation often outweigh the impacts of fruit consumption.
“The Indian flying fox is found across South Asia, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, China (Tibet), Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. It roosts in large, established colonies on open tree branches, especially in urban areas or in temples. It prefers to roost on tall trees with small diameters and prefers to be in close proximity to water bodies, human residences, and agricultural land. This habitat selection is highly dependent on food availability,” Vignesh told reporters.
The SDFO said that they are also trying to create awareness among the people on the importance of these bat species for the ecology and the environment.
“A shed using natural materials such as thatch and poles shall be constructed in the spot and would also install a telescope for viewing the bats for the public. Display signs about the species in and around the region would also be required for better information dissemination. We have also fenced the area since the location is quite prominent and is located along the national highway. The area could very well be a part of the eco-tourism circuits of the state,” he said.
He added that the forest department is also planning to set up two or three other bat viewpoint across the state.
Earlier, the forest department had set up a “restaurant for vultures” after more than 36 scavenger birds were spotted in two places of the state’s Khowai district, about 60 km from Agartala.