AUGUST 2007 - Updates on GNoR BIG Events by sdsdfqw21


Newsletter of the Gauteng & Northern Regions Bat Interest Group
Issue #45 - August 2007
Editor: Rebecca Smith

 Updates on GNoR BIG Events
 GNoR BIG AGM – 4th August 2007
 By Rebecca Smith

 The AGM was held at Winchester Marketing in Houghton, a big thank you to them and Brian Whiting for the use of
 the premises. Thank you to all who attended and hopefully you had a jolly afternoon, especially with the Bat’s Rock
 sponsored wine! The new committee was voted in, with Nigel standing down as chairman and handing the reigns
 over to Julio Balona. The committee elected was as follows:

 Julio Balona – Chairman & Research Coordinator
 Sharron Reynolds – Treasurer
 Erna van Schalkwyk – Membership Secretary & Merchandise
 Rebecca Smith – Newsletter Editor
 Wanda Markotter – Research committee
 Trevor Morgan – Research committee
 Nigel Fernsby – Advisory role & Bat houses

 Nigel gave a speech on thanking everyone he has worked with over the past 10 years for the effort they have put
 in to keep GNoR BIG running. It is with great sadness he has stood down and I am sure he will have lots of good
 memories from the years past. We wish him well in his retirement and hopefully he is not too much of a stranger. As
 a token of appreciation the new committee decided to make Nigel an honorary member, as well as his wife Rose
 who also deserves recognition for her efforts and for being the consistently friendly face of GNoR BIG over the

 The finances for the year have allowed us to buy a number of equipment pieces, including a harp trap, projector
 and few other bits and bobs. It was noted that Bat Walks and merchandise, brought in most of the money to the
 group and in the next years, hopefully, these will be as successful as they have in the past.

 The meeting was rounded up with a talk by Nigel and Julio on their bat species survey in the Phalaborwa area for the
 Phalaborwa Mining Company (PMC). The fires were lit, after the formalities and we settled down to a great evening
 of braaing and discussing new ideas for the New Year.

 One of many fruit bats caught on the PMC bat survey.           Midas free-tailed bat caught on the PMC survey.
 Photo : Mandy Momberg                                        Photo : Mark Surmon

Bat Winter Movie Evening – 21 July 2007
By Sharron Reynolds

The committee decided to hold a social evening in July as bats are in hibernation and it seemed like a great idea to
be able to offer members something to keep them going until the summer months when outings can be arranged.

I had just recently purchased a copy of “The secret World of Bats” and had even had to go out and buy a new DVD
player as the one I had just would not play the DVD! Jackie has also purchased a copy a few months earlier and
had not been able to stop talking about it – well, the first time I watched it I was blown away and just HAD to share
it with everyone I came across even those vaguely interested in watching it. To cut a long story short we decided to
arrange the “Winter Social” around the showing of the DVD. We toyed with the idea of having a cheese and wine,
bring and braai and several other ideas and finally came up with a “soup” evening. Julio had in the mean time taken
up the idea of a cheese and wine evening and had approached Bats Rock wines for a sponsorship.

A week before the planned evening there was just Julio, Becky and I confirmed for the evening. With Julio having
been successful with his wine donation venture we decided to go ahead anyway, even if it was just the 3 of us!

It was also decided to extend the invite to a few other clubs with the intention of combining the evening with a
membership drive. Success – by the Friday we had a grand total of 21 people confirmed – and I had gallantly
offered to be chief cook…

Thanks to Winchester Marketing – our corporate member – we had the perfect venue. With lots of help from some
of the more technically minded members we were able to get the laptop linked up to the data projector and viola we
had a picture on the wall – the problem was we would have to stand on our heads to watch…. Some frantic fiddling
and lots of assistance and button pushing we managed to turn the picture around and were able to sit back and
watch the movie.

Unfortunately because of the delay some of the members and visitors missed out on the soup and social banter as
they had to leave. The rest of us spent a great evening getting to know each other a little better, Julio handed out
membership forms to the visitors and hopefully we will see them soon at a bat outing as fully fledged members.

Considering the overall success of the evening this is definitely an evening that will be slotted into our socials list
for the year, look out in the next newsletter for dates! If I have not worn the DVD out by then, we will even get a
chance to watch the movie again!

Thabela Thabeng Bat Outing – 16-18 March 2007
By Julio Balona

Our outing location was once about 20 km from ground zero of a magnitude 14 meteorite strike . Fortunately we
only showed up about 2 billion years later. The offending rock is estimated to have been about the size of Table
Mountain, creating a central uplift structure which today is known as the Vredefort Dome. At about 300 km in
diameter, it is the largest impact structure known on Earth and its geological significance is considered important
enough that a few years ago this was declared a world heritage site. Not only does it arouse geologists, but I have
personally always found the rocky, bush covered hills that were created, quite suggestive. This is because they are
much in contrast with the surrounding grasslands of the greater area and the presence of species such as Brown-
hooded kingfishers and Vervet monkeys hints that more than the standard grassland fauna is available here. For
this reason I decided it might be worth a visit for a weekend bat outing, especially since it is only about 1½ hours
from Johannesburg. Also, it appears that no bat work has ever been done in the area so that even a basic survey
would be useful.

We checked into the wonderfully cosy getaway of Thabela Thabeng tucked in the mountains and located near the
‘town’ of Venterskroon2. The first night went reasonably well and we netted two Cape serotines (Neoromicia
capensis) and five Schreibers’ long-fingered bats (Miniopterus schreibersii natalensis). The serotines were no
surprise, being the most common and widespread South African bat.

1   The 2004 earthquake that caused a devastating tsunami was about magnitude 9

2 It consist of about three buildings

The Schreibers’ I was glad to record because even though it is not an uncommon species, it’s presence could at
least be confirmed. Another important point about this cave roosting bat is that it is known to migrate between
colder areas such as Gauteng and warmer areas such as Mpumalanga. This makes conservation difficult since the
good work of safeguarding a breeding cave in Mpumalanga can be undone when unbeknownst to conservationists;
the same bats are harassed while trying to hibernate in a cave in Gauteng. Unfortunately something like this may
be happening as there appears to have been a general decline in the numbers of these bats over the years. The
first step in trying to reverse this trend is to locate their major migration destinations, one of which is possibly one of
the many old mine tunnels near Venterskroon. There are several tunnels at Thabela Thabeng but these are not as
extensive as others in the area and unlikely to support any large populations of bats. Nevertheless, although they
may not be used as breeding or hibernation sites, they are still used by some bats as a roost. For this reason we
hiked the following day to a set of tunnels to investigate if they were being used, and by what.

Happily, we found that there were about four to five Geoffroy’s horseshoe bats (Rhinolophus clivosus) in residence.
I managed to scoop one with a hand net so that we could properly identify and examine it. Horseshoe bats may
appear grotesque to some, but to a batter their odd quizzical faces with the horseshoe shaped structure is hard to
resist. This bizarre design enables them to echolocate at a surprisingly precise frequency that is more typical of an
electronic device than an animal. Of course, the purpose of this biological sonar is to navigate and to locate prey in
the dark. Interestingly, from the wings lying on the floor of the tunnel, prey items include cicadas and hawk moths.
This is curious because 1) cicadas are generally diurnal as far as I know and 2) hawk moths are fast flyers and
horseshoe bats are not. It may suggest that these insects are gleaned from leaves and tree trunks rather than
caught in flight. As always, there are many unanswered questions which is part of the allure of these creatures.

      The fascinating Geoffroy' horseshoe bat.                Julio examining a horseshoe bat’s wing as if a Jurassic
                                                                       explorer looking at a baby pterodactyl.
Photo : Jan Coetzee                                        Photo : Trevor Morgan

I thought the horseshoe bats were the only ones in the tunnel
but thankfully Trevor has a keen eye and e spotted three
Temminck’s hairy bats (Myotis tricolor) snuggling tightly together
in a cylindrical crevice in the roof. This was a nice discovery
since some of the group have never seen this bat before. They
seem to be a little less common than Schreibers’ long-fingered
bat but the two species are often found together using the same
cave as a roost.

  Three snuggling Temminck' hairy bat (one hidden in the dark)
                                                 Photo : Trevor Morgan

That night, although the braai was lively and the people very pleasant, the bats did not come to the party. We had
set our mistnets and harp trap in what we thought would be busy ‘flight ways’ for bats, but it appears they were all
attending a function of their own, elsewhere. (Snobs!)

On the Sunday, we trekked up the mountain to investigate another pair of old mine tunnels. These ones turned out
to be more popular with Geoffroy’s horseshoe bat and were inhabited by about a dozen. The reason for this is most

likely that they are less often visited by people than the tunnels we checked the previous day. An interesting find
was a lone Schreibers’ long-fingered bat which is usually a gregarious species. This lady was roosting on the roof
quite near the tunnel entrance where there was a surprising amount of light. It may be that it was forced there in
order to keep its distance from the group of horseshoe bats roosting at the back end of the tunnel. We carefully
captured it for a closer look and found it had a few ectoparasites3 crawling around in its fur. This is quite normal and
there are many different species that infest bats which appear not to suffer much from it. In addition the parasites
themselves seem to be fussy and it is possible that each species of bat is a host to certain species of ectoparasite
that does not inhabit other bats.

The creepy crawlies on the Schreiber’s turned out to be just that: creepy! I took two of them for my records and
when I got home and examined each I discovered they were bat flies. These are wingless flies with strong legs that
are peculiar to bats and are rather monstrous looking (my apologies to the Bat Fly Interest Group if it exists).

So in total for the weekend we recorded four species which I was quite happy with. I suspect though that there is at
least one or two more species to be found there and we plan to return after winter. See the Dates to Diarise for
more details on the next planned trip.

Letter to the Editor

Beste GNoR BIG
Die rede waarom ons GNoR BIG gekontak het deur die internet is omdat ons ' vlermuis in Mari se tuin gekry het.
                         n                                        n                n
Die vlermuis het eintlik ' ongeluk in ons tuin gehad. Mari het ' birdfeeder aan ' boomtak laat hang, maar
ongelukkig het sy die lyn dubbel gemaak. Hy het toe tussen die twee lyne ingevlieg en kon nie uit kom nie. Toe sy
                                                                            t    s             n
die oggend kar toe gaan om werk toe te ry, toe hang die outjie daar. Sy'foto' geneem en ' video op haar
selfoon. Sy vertel my toe dat iets verkeerd was met die prentjie en eers na ' ruk tref dit haar, die vlermuis hang
                                                                                              s                   t
nie onderstebo nie, dis wat fout is. Sy het toe versigtig die outjie gehelp en kon toe sien hy' vas in die lyn. Sy'
hom in die boom ingehelp en is toe weg werk toe.

Die middag terug by die huis, is hy toe nogsteeds in die boom en daar het sy met hom gespartel tot ek half 8 van
die werk afkom. Ek het haar omgepraat om die outjie die huis in te bring. Ons het hom toegedraai in ' stuk lap en
van die boom afgehaal. Sy'hom probeer water gee, maar sy veggees was nog daar, as ons nader aan sy bekkie
                                            n                            n
kom dan blaas hy vir ons en genade hy het ' paar tande wat ou knerses ' "go" sou gee.

                                             n                     t                n
Daar het ons toe nader kennis gemaak met ' vrugtevlermuis. Hy'die gesiggie van ' vos gehad, die sagste ou
haartjies en sy vel aan sy vlerke was net so sag. Natuurlik het ons van daai vlymskerp tandjies weggebly. Die ou
dingetjie het toe by ons oornag in ' skoenboks om die kat van hom af weg te hou.

Hier by 4 uur die oggend het Mari opgestaan, ek het wakker geword en saam gaan kyk... Nodeloos om te
sê.....Daar was ' tranedal vroeg daai more in ons huis en ek het haar weer eens gemaak om die outjie in ons tuin
te gaan begrawe.

Sy het baie sleg gevoel oor die ou dingetjie se dood, is daar nou iewers kleintjies wat wag op hulle ma, ons weet
nie. Sy'dadelik die birdfeeder afgehaal en op die grond maak staan. Dit moes seker gebeur het anders het ons
nooit daardie voorreg gehad om ' vlermuis vas te hou nie.

Ons het getrek en bly nie meer daar nie, die birdfeeder hang weer, maar net aan ' enkel lyn.

Elsie en Mari

3   External parasite
Dates to Diarize for 2007
The year is flying by, faster than we are arranging outings, but not all is lost as we will still be doing some bat walks
and an outing before the year draws to an end.

Weekends Away

Date:               2 - 4 November 2007
Event:              Bat Field Weekend to Thabela Thabeng
                    (Vredefort Dome).
Description:        This is an exciting weekend of working in the field, just 1.5
                    hours from Joburg. This is a world heritage site, a great
                    place to visit.
Venue:              Thabela Thabeng -
Bookings:           Unfortunately theses are now closed
Cost:               R145 or R220 p/p/p/n

Bat Walks

Date:               20 October 2007 (Saturday)
Event:              Bat Walk in Potchefstroom
Description:        Come for an informative walk and learn facts on bats, see them being
                    caught in the mistnets, and later flown in the flight tunnel so to hear
                    their series of clicks as an audible sound.
Venue:              Potchefstroom.
Bookings:           Erna / 082 927 9532
Volunteers:         We need volunteers to help on the day, give details to Erna

Date:               1 December 2007 (Saturday)
Event:              Bat Walk in Pretoria Botanical Gardens
Description:        Come for an informative walk through the Botanical Gardens and learn
                    facts on bats, see them being caught in the mistnets, and later flown in the
                    flight tunnel so to hear their series of clicks as an audible sound.
Venue:              Pretoria Botanical Gardens
Bookings:           Erna / 082 927 9532
Volunteers:         We need volunteers to help on the day, give details to Erna

Bat News

Sponsorship – Bat’s Rock, Don’t They!
By Julio Balona

I guess it’s fitting that we first discovered Bat’s Rock wines together at a GNoR BIG committee meeting last year.
We were unable to meet at our usual venue in Sunninghill and decided to move to the Bolero’s Steakhouse nearby.
It was there that our congregation of batters probably embarrassed ourselves a bit by our obvious approval for
anyone who would name a wine brand after a place where bats lived. We forgot about it for months except for
whenever we went to Bolero’s.

Finally, a few weeks ago I had a minor brainwave: I would ask them to sponsor us!

It was a simple proposal I had in mind. We would promote Bat’s Rock on our rather successful website, in
exchange for wine that could be supplied at our socials and AGM. I found out that Bat’s Rock is one of the brand
wines produced by Lutzville Vineyards which is owned by Cape Diamond Vineyards. A phone call to the PR Officer
and an emailed proposal was all it took and a week later I was meeting their National Sales Manager, Louis de
Beer. I' happy to report that the meeting went well, in fact better than expected.
It turns out Louis is very keen on collaborating with us. He has actually been looking for a '       for
                                                                                             charity' the business
and is particularly keen on the bats idea because he believes that their novelty as a branding tool could make them
very effective for marketing (Bat' Rock is one of the more popular wines in the Western Cape).
Also, beyond the commercial benefits, he thinks the whole bat concept is fun and interesting.

The most exciting thing is that he is thinking bigger than my initial proposal. He is quite happy with the arrangement
of us listing Bat' Rock on our website, in exchange for them supplying wine for socials and the AGM. But he
considers this merely a starting point and is interested in later growing the sponsorship support into other avenues
such as membership incentives, merchandise, fund raising dinners and of a real significance to me; projects. We
tossed around a lot of ideas and hopefully some will be realised. Always remembering that in exchange for their
support we must help promote their wine.                                                          t
                                                                                Fortunately I don' think this will be too
restrictive since he believes that once the                                          s
                                                                                Bat' Rock and GNoR BIG brands are
linked, the promotion of bats in general                                    will be good for both.

Right now we are very much in the infancy of this collaboration which was baptised with Bat’s Rock wine at our
recent AGM, but I have high hopes for the future. For me, this is an opportunity that we must seize that can help to
bring about what GNoR BIG really wants to achieve: a significant positive impact on the conservation of bat
biodiversity in Southern Africa.

So it amuses me to write this but you can help conserve bats by drinking wine!

Please support the Bat’s Rock brand by asking for it at restaurants and liquor stores. The two establishments that I
know of who carry this wine are Bolero’s Steakhouse in Sunninghill and Sfigati Restaurant in Bryanston.

                                                     Their website:

Bat Survey – New Destinations Needed

For the new financial year we are looking for new places to do bat surveys.
This is all part of an ongoing project of surveying Gauteng’s bat populations.
If you have a colony of bats on your property and would like to know what type of bats they are, contact us and we
shall arrange an outing to your site to do some identifying.

We are also looking weekend away places for areas that have not been surveyed by GNoR BIG.
If you have a venue and would like to learn more about your bat populations in your area,
send your details to Julio Balona on:

Thanks in advance and happy spotting!

Bat Web Pages:
Click on the following links to read some interesting bat articles:

Doctors go bat-hunting to find the source of Uganda'
Marburg outbreak
An update to this story since:
Marburg virus culprit found,,2-13-
Marburg virus found in African fruit bats

                                                                         Egyptian Roussete (fruit bat)
Fake fruits lure bats to replant denuded rainforests
Rare bats making a comeback in London
6 New Species Discovered In Congo
Purpose-built home for bats spurned by Lesser Horseshoe population
Downpours '    starving'  young bats
Fruit bats discovered to have menstrual cycles
Volunteers cleaning up bats'home
Alone in the dark -- or at least bats need to be to survive

The GNoR BIG Committee would like to welcome our new members and hope to see them at our various events.
The following people have joined since the last newsletter:

Mrs Blue Saint Clair
Mej Marié Botha
Mej Elsie Meyer
Mr & Mrs Lionel & Cilla Taylor
Mrs Pat van Nierop
Mr Andries Swarts
Mr Anthony Mast

For those existing members, we would like to thank you for your continued support, so far half of our members
have paid their membership fees and we encourage members to carry on supporting GNoR BIG.

For those not mentioned, my apologies, and to those who have not completed their forms as of yet, please do, as
we are looking forward to hearing from you. Contact Erna for membership forms (see below for her details).

Membership Fee Reminder

BIG would like to take this opportunity to remind all members to re-new their membership fees. Membership will run
annually from 1 July to 30 June. Banking details on last page.

Student                 R40
Normal                  R60
Family                  R80
Institute/Corporate     R500

The range of merchandise currently includes:
Baseball Caps                                       R45
Children’s badges (various colours):                R 6
Fridge Magnets (various colours):                   R 6
Key rings:                                          R10
T-shirts - various                                  R40-R65
Small rubber bats for children                      R2-R12
Bat CD ‘Echo’s of the Night’                        R65

Prices may vary as new runs are made.

GNoR BIG Bank Account Details
Bank:              Nedbank
Branch Code:       Pretoria Business (149745)
Account Name:      Gauteng and Northern Regions Bat Interest Group
Account Number:    149 709 6634

GNoR BIG Committee
Julio Balona (Chairman & Research Coordinator)          Wanda Markotter (Research)
Tel:    016-920-3016                                    Tel:    012-420-4602 (W)
Cell:   082-359-1295                                    Cell:   082-824-6356
E-mail:                          E-mail:

Sharron Reynolds (Treasurer)                            Rebecca Smith (Newsletter Editor)
Tel:   082-821-6588,                                    Tel:    082-826-7746
       011-447-7740 (W)                                 E-mail:
       011-974-0798 (H)

Erna Van Schalkwyk (Membership Secretary &              Nigel Fernsby (advisory role & Bat houses)
Merchandise)                                            Tel:    012-659-0087 (H/W)
Tel:    082-927-9532                                    E-mail:

Trevor Morgan (Research)

Other Interest Groups

Cape Bat Action Team

Dr David Jacobs
University of Cape Town
Tel:    021-650-4011
Fax:    021-650-3301

John Taylor
Tel & Fax: 021-975-1248

KZN Bat Interest Group

Secretary: Fiona Mackenzie
Tel:    031-261-1585 / 083-944-1411

GNoR BIG website


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