Sustainably constructed building for Livingstone’s fruit bats in Jersey

December 6th, 2011 by HSBC Bank International Ltd

A five month-long project to create a ‘Bat Tunnel’ at Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust in Jersey was completed by staff volunteers from HSBC in March 2011, creating the first sustainable building of its kind in Jersey.

Livingstone fruit bat at the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust (image courtesy HSBC)

Durrell’s resident Livingstone’s fruit bats moved into their new home, ‘Island Bat Roost’ in March 2011 following a complete retrofitting of the existing tunnel.

Of the approximately 1,000 species of bat that live worldwide, the Livingstone’s fruit bat is one of the largest, with a wing span of up to five feet, and faces the greatest risk of extinction. In the islands of the Comoros where it lives, precious little forest remains – the islands are also home to a poor and rapidly expanding human population. If areas that the bats depend on for their survival are not protected, this amazing species faces the risk of extinction in the near future.

The first Livingstone’s bats arrived at Durrell in 1992 – the species had never been kept in captivity before and bats had to be brought from the steep forested slopes that they call home. This was a difficult exercise and it took four expeditions to catch enough bats for a successful start to the captive breeding programme designed to safeguard the species from being wiped out.

The new ‘Island Bat Roost’ was completed in two main stages.

The tyres were compacted with earth which gives them strength and increased the value of the thermal insulation they provide (click image to expand - image courtesy of HSBC)

The walls of the tunnel were first constructed using more than 800 locally-sourced used car tyres, which would otherwise have been shipped off island as waste.

HSBC staff digging out earth to deepen the enclosure for the Livingstone fruit bats and to provide space for the tyre wall (click image to expand - image courtesy of HSBC)

The start of the impacted earth tyre wall inside the Livingstone Fruit Bat enclosure at the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust in Jersey (click image to expand - image courtesy of HSBC)

In the second phase of the project, started in February 2011, the team of volunteers returned to render the public and ‘hospital’ areas of the tunnel with mud and install bottle windows, before the roof was finally fitted.

The earth covered tyre wall with a window of bottles to let in light (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

In total, more than 330 HSBC staff were involved in the project since it began in early November 2010, accumulating between them a total of over 2,000 man-hours.

Some of the volunteers from HSBC Bank International who participated in the construction of the Island bat roost for Livingstone's fruit bat (click image to expand - image courtesy of HSBC)

With a new, highly efficient heating system being installed in the enclosure, also funded by HSBC, the newly created tunnel will provide the perfect environmental conditions for the tropical bat.

Nick Winsor, Chief Executive Officer, HSBC Offshore Islands, said: “This has been a major project for our staff and I am delighted that they have committed themselves to it so enthusiastically over the past five months. There is nothing else quite like this structure in Jersey, so it is fantastic to be involved in such an innovative sustainable project that will benefit our major community partners Durrell as they look to protect this fascinating species.”

The completed Livingstone fruit bat enclosure with the earth impacted tyre walls now covered by vegetation which provide thermal retention (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

Mark Brayshaw, Head of Animal Collection at Durrell, added: “What we have now is a structure that is far more energy efficient, a vastly improved facility for the viewing public and, most importantly, provides a much better environment for the bats. With its native forest habitat in the Comoros islands coming under growing pressure from a rapidly expanding human population, the Livingstone’s fruit bat faces a real risk of extinction, adding further importance to our conservation programme for them at Durrell.”

Andrew Scott-Miller of Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust looks into the retrofitted and renewed bat enclosure (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

Further information about adopting Merlin, one of Durrell’s highly inquisitive and attention seeking Livingstone’s fruit bats, can be found on the Durrell website.


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