Published on 4th November 2016
Conservation of endangered bat species in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville has seen exciting progress in 2016, thanks to a partnership between Bougainville Bureau for the Environment, Bat Conservation International (BCI), Rotokas Ecotourism (RET) and Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA).
The partnership was formed to develop a Conservation Management Plan for the biodiverse Kunua Plains and Mount Balbi regions, comprising more than 75,000 hectares.
A key focus of the plan was to conserve and protect endangered species such as the Bougainville monkey-faced bat, known as Vukere in the Rotokas language and indigenous to the region. This unique bat species (pictured) has not been seen by outsiders in nearly 50 years!
VSA volunteers Rebecca Vella-King and Alison Turner have been heavily involved with the project, Rebecca as representative for the Bougainville Bureau for the Environment (BBE) and Alison in her role as Ecotourism and Conservation Adviser with Rotokas Ecotourism Association.
During her trip to the conservation region, Rebecca also conducted some research focus sessions for BBE on the traditional knowledge of birds, songs, myths and legends, as well as the names of birds in the local languages.
A vital ingredient in the conservation project's success to date has been the leadership shown by the Rokokas indigenous clans and their willingness to work side by side with representatives from the organisations involved to help protect their native forests and species.
Photos courtesy of Dave Waldien and Rebecca Vella-King