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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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New York to ban sale of foie gras

News Story 1
 New York City councillors have voted overwhelmingly in favour of legislation that will see the ban of foie gras in the city. The move, which comes in response to animal cruelty concerns, will take effect in 2022.


 Councillor Carlina Rivera, who sponsored the legislation, told the New York Times that her bill “tackles the most inhumane process” in the commercial food industry. “This is one of the most violent practices, and it’s done for a purely luxury product,” she said.


 Foie gras is a food product made of the liver of a goose or duck that has been fattened, often by force-feeding. New York City is one of America’s largest markets for the product, with around 1,000 restaurants currently offering it on their menu. 

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Humane Slaughter Association student scholarships open for applications

Applications for the Humane Slaughter Association’s student/trainee Dorothy Sidley Memorial Scholarships are now open.

The Scholarships provide funding to enable students or trainees in the industry to undertake a project aimed at improving the welfare of food animals during marketing, transport and slaughter. The project may be carried out as an integral part of a student's coursework over an academic year, or during the summer break.

The deadline for applications is midnight on the 28 February 2020. To apply and for further information visit www.hsa.org.uk/grants or contact the HSA office.