Albania promotes a new life for bat species in abandoned bunkers and tunnels
3 March 2017, Tirana, Albania - Former military building Bunk’Art opens its doors for the unique Bat Expo “Bunkers: Shelters of Biodiversity”, on the occasion of World Wildlife Day celebrated worldwide on 3 March. The exhibition is a result of the cooperation of the EU funded project NaturAL, the National Agency of Protected Areas (NAPA) and Bunk’Art, and aims to inspire the decision-makers and each individual to take action to protect the wildlife. “A special focus is placed on the bats, the insectivorous mammals of key importance for the ecosystems and the human economy, and the abandoned bunkers that are taken over by nature – and becoming of great importance for nature conservation,” explained Mr. Celik Rruplli from the Bunk’Art.
The exhibition “Bunkers: Shelters of Biodiversity”, officially launched today, will be opened for visitors at Bunk’Art premises throughout 2017. While enjoying the expo, visitors can learn about bats species in Albania. “We are glad to witness that wildlife presence in Albania is improving and that our country offers new tourist attractions. Our efforts and partners’ contribution have resulted in the establishment of the wild fauna database in Albania that will improve the wildlife habitat management and safeguard the protected species,” stressed Mrs. A.Petri, NAPA representatives.
The results of a series of investigations on bats, supported by NaturAL and other EU funded projects, recorded 32 bat species in Albania - a very high number considering that a maximum of 54 species have been recorded in whole Europe. 18 species out of 32 were spotted in the bunkers, like the Lesser Horseshoe Bat or the Greater Mouse-eared Bat.Mr. Ervis Loce, a bat expert and curator of the exhibition stressed that Albania is also home to the bat species endemic for the Western Balkans, Kolombatovic's Long-eared Bat.
“Albania offers a diversity of habitats very interesting for bats, such as caves, houses, trees, old military tunnels and bunkers widely spread throughout the country. The on-going work supported by EU will help the protection of those habitats, and involve the local community in this process,” said Mr. Antoine Avignon, Program Manager for Environment, Energy and Civil Protection at the EU Delegation to Albania.
“29% of the 82,954 species which are listed on the IUCN Red List are threatened with extinction, as announced at the IUCN World Conservation Congress 2016. Habitat loss and climate change only partly explain this high extinction rate – disturbance and poaching represent a growing pressure on wildlife. Each of us is part of the solution, we need to act to ensure wildlife conservation,” added Mr. Boris Erg, Director of IUCN Regional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
World Wildlife Day 2017 theme is "Listen to the Young Voices" and NaturAl project through this exhibition is aiming at influencing youth’s environmental attitudes for wildlife conservation. Government representatives, law makers, enforcement officers, customs officials and park rangers across every region are scaling up their efforts to protect wildlife. It is also up to every citizen, young and old, to protect wildlife and their habitats. We all have a role to play – these were the key messages delivered during the ceremony.