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‘Bat manicures’ help to save rare species
Scientists used four different nail varnish colours to paint the bats’ ’nails’, creating thousands of colour combinations for unique markings.

ZSL uses unusual method to mark threatened bats in Cuba 

Scientists are using nail varnish to paint the ‘nails’ of one of the world’s rarest bats, as part of an unusual project to estimate population numbers.

Declared extinct until it was rediscovered in 1992, the Cuban greater funnel-eared bat is confined to a single cave in Western Cuba.

A team of scientists from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) needed a way to identify individual bats, but marking them can be challenging. It is typically done through necklaces, arm rings or wing punches, but this can sometimes alter behaviour.

As the remaining population of these bats is so small, researchers wanted to keep things as natural as possible. They came up with the solution of using four different nail varnish colours to paint the bats’ nails, creating thousands of colour combinations for unique markings.

Preliminary results suggest there are less than 750 of these bats left. ZSL scientists said the species is in need of urgent conservation help, as the last population is threatened by human intrusion and collapse of the cave roof due to thermal instability.

Jose Manuel De La Cruz Mora, ZSL’s Segré-EDGE Fellow, said: “It was time consuming giving each bat an individual manicure, but it’s an incredible privilege to get up-close to this amazing animal – and to discover more about them made all those hours painting their nails worth it!
 
“Bats around the world are one of the most threatened group of animals due to destruction of their roosts, disease and even hunting – but they provide an enormous ecosystem benefit to humans. By keeping insect populations down, they reduce the chance of disease risk and pests on farmers’ crops.
 
“As they’re very picky about where they roost – they’re particularly vulnerable to human disturbance, but now we have a rough estimate of how many are left, we can plan the best conservation action – including local community awareness campaigns to raise their profile.”

Nail varnish image © ZSL; bat photo © Carolina Soto Navarro/ZSL

 

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Rare chimp birth announced at Edinburgh Zoo

News Story 1
 The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) welcomed the birth of a critically endangered western chimpanzee on Monday 3 February at Edinburgh Zoo's Budongo Trail.

The baby girl will be named in the coming days through a public vote, and staff will carry out a paternity test during its first health check to determine the father.

Mother Heleen's first infant, Velu, was born in 2014, making this new baby only the second chimpanzee born in Scotland for more than 20 years.

Budongo Trail team leader Donald Gow said: "While we celebrate every birth, this one is particularly special because our new arrival is a critically endangered Western chimpanzee, a rare subspecies of chimpanzee."

Image (c) RZSS/Donald Gow. 

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BEVA offering free membership to vet students

The British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) is offering free membership to veterinary students. As part of a new initiative with the aim of encouraging more veterinary professionals into equine practice.

According to BEVA, less than one in ten veterinary students choose to work in equine practice. The association hopes that this initiative will provide insight into the field and the benefits of a career in equine medicine.

Benefits of membership include:
▪ access to a network of nearly 3,000 members
▪ special student rates to attend BEVA Congress
▪ online access to BEVA's Equine Veterinary Education (EVE) journal
▪ free access to the association's online learning platform
▪ free access to BEVA's practical veterinary apps
▪ exclusive discounts on a range of things from cinema tickets to grocery shopping.

BEVA will be releasing a series of short videos over the next few months from BEVA Council members, explaining what inspired them to work in equine practice.

Image (c) BEVA.