The Southwood Foundation (TSF) is delighted to be supporting a major new campaign to help reintroduce the rare greater horseshoe bat to the south-east of England.
Greater horseshoe bats suffered an estimated a 90% decline in the UK in the 20th century. Since the 1970s they have only been found in small areas of the south-west of England and a handful of sites in south Wales.
Now a maternity colony of greater horseshoe bats has been found 100km east of their current roosts in a rural building for sale in West Sussex. The race is on to raise funds to purchase the building before it goes on to the open market.
After a 20th century low of some 4,000, the current estimated horseshoe bat population is around 13,000, compared to an estimated three million pipistrelles — our most common bat. This rise in the horseshoe bat population may have helped fuel this eastward quest to plant new roots in an old home. It is hoped that safeguarding the future of this building will attract more pioneering bats and act as a staging post to support the greater horseshoe bats distribution in the south-east of England and even London.
Mark Southwood (the TSF founder) said, “The race is on to buy the farm building where the bats are roosting to save this precious new colony. With the biodiversity crisis well underway in this country and around the world, species conservation and recovery are a matter of absolute urgency. In terms of the conservation of horseshoe bats, this site is probably the most important colony in Britain. The Southwood Foundation is pleased to be able to help and we urge others to join us in contributing whatever they can to the fund so that this opportunity can be secured.
The West Sussex site will be owned by Vincent Wildlife Trust (www.vwt.org.uk) as a bat roost in perpetuity. It will be managed by the Trust in conjunction with the Sussex Bat Group. The project is being championed by a range of bat and conservation enthusiasts but much more support is needed to secure the building for this vitally important bat colony.
For more information about this exciting project and how to contribute, please click here: www.vwt.org.uk/sussex-bat-appeal/.
The photo of Greater Horseshoe Bats in flight was taken by Andrew McCarthy.