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201313Apr17:53

Striped like a bad­ger — new genus of bat iden­ti­fied in South Sudan

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pub­lished 13 April 2013 | mod­i­fied 05 April 2014
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Striped batRare spec­i­men of new bat genus dis­cov­ered by researchers from Buck­nell Uni­ver­sity and Fauna & Flora Inter­na­tional (FFI) while con­duct­ing field research with wildlife author­i­ties in South Sudan.

Researchers have iden­ti­fied a new genus of bat after dis­cov­er­ing a rare spec­i­men in South Sudan. With wildlife per­son­nel under the South Sudanese Min­istry of Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion and Tourism, Buck­nell Asso­ciate Pro­fes­sor of Biol­ogy DeeAnn Reeder and FFI Pro­gramme Offi­cer Adrian Gar­side were lead­ing a team con­duct­ing field research and pur­su­ing con­ser­va­tion efforts when Reeder spot­ted the ani­mal in Ban­gan­gai Game Reserve.

My atten­tion was imme­di­ately drawn to the bat’s strik­ingly beau­ti­ful and dis­tinct pat­tern of spots and stripes. It was clearly a very extra­or­di­nary ani­mal, one that I had never seen before. I knew the sec­ond I saw it that it was the find of a lifetime.
DeeAnn Reeder, Buck­nell Asso­ciate Pro­fes­sor of Biol­ogy »

After return­ing to the United States, Reeder deter­mined the bat was the same as one orig­i­nally cap­tured in nearby Demo­c­ra­tic Repub­lic of the Congo in 1939 and named Glau­conyc­teris superba, but she and col­leagues did not believe that it fit with other bats in the genus. “After care­ful analy­sis, it is clear that it doesn’t belong in the genus that it’s in right now,” Reeder said. “Its cra­nial char­ac­ters, its wing char­ac­ters, its size, the ears — lit­er­ally every­thing you look at doesn’t fit. It’s so unique that we need to cre­ate a new genus.”

In the paper, “A new genus for a rare African ves­per­til­ionid bat: insights from South Sudan” pub­lished on 5 April in the jour­nal ZooKeys, Reeder, along with co-​authors from the Smith­son­ian Insti­tu­tion and the Islamic Uni­ver­sity in Uganda, placed this bat into a new genus Nium­baha. The word means “rare” or “unusual” in Zande, the lan­guage of the Azande peo­ple in West­ern Equa­to­ria State, where the bat was cap­tured. The bat is just the fifth spec­i­men of its kind ever col­lected, and the first in South Sudan, which gained its inde­pen­dence in 2011.

To me, this dis­cov­ery is sig­nif­i­cant because it high­lights the bio­log­i­cal impor­tance of South Sudan and hints that this new nation has many nat­ural won­ders yet to be dis­cov­ered. South Sudan is a coun­try with much to offer and much to protect.
(Matt Rice, FFI’s South Sudan coun­try direc­tor)


FFI is using its exten­sive expe­ri­ence of work­ing in con­flict and post-​conflict coun­tries to assist the South Sudanese gov­ern­ment as it re-​establishes the country’s wildlife con­ser­va­tion sec­tor and is also help­ing to reha­bil­i­tate selected pro­tected areas through train­ing and devel­op­ment of park staff and wildlife ser­vice per­son­nel, road and infra­struc­ture devel­op­ment, equip­ment pro­vi­sion, and sup­port­ing research work such as this.

The team’s research in South Sudan was made pos­si­ble by a US$100,000 grant that Reeder received from the Woodtiger Fund. The pri­vate research foun­da­tion recently awarded Reeder another US$100,000 dol­lar grant to con­tinue her research this May and to sup­port FFI’s con­ser­va­tion pro­grammes.

Our dis­cov­ery of this new genus of bat is an indi­ca­tor of how diverse the area is and how much work remains,” Reeder added. “Under­stand­ing and con­serv­ing bio­di­ver­sity is crit­i­cal in many ways. Know­ing what species are present in an area allows for bet­ter man­age­ment. When species are lost, ecosystem-​level changes ensue. I’m con­vinced this area is one in which we need to con­tinue to work.”


(Source: Buck­nell Uni­ver­sity | FFI press release, 10.04.2013)

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