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Rwanda Commits to Preserving a Bat thought To be Extinct

A critically endangered species of bats not sighted in 40 years has been found in Rwanda, with the “incredible” discovery delighting conservationists who had feared it was already extinct. But the Hill’s horseshoe bat was in fact still clinging to life in Rwanda’s Nyungwe forest – a dense rainforest that is home to endangered mountain gorillas – the consortium behind the discovery said. There had been no information on the population of the mammals and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2021 listed them as critically endangered. Rediscovering the lost species “was incredible”, Jon Flanders, director for Bat Conservation International (BCI), said in a statement late on Tuesday. “It’s astonishing to think that we’re the first people to see this bat in so long.” The Texas-based non-profit had partnered with the Rwanda Development Board and Rwanda Wildlife Conservation Association to conduct surveys in the jungle starting in 2013. For the researchers in Rwanda, the elusive discovery marks the beginning of a new race to save the once lost species from disappearing again. Nyungwe park rangers have now installed detectors which “eavesdrop” on the nightly flights of the bats. The dense Rwandan rainforest is also home to endangered mountain gorillas.