Bats a Vital Component
Sunday October 16, 2005 - The Star
I REFER to the letter, "Bringing in bats will only compound problem", from Dr Chow-Yang Lee (Sunday Star, Oct 2) and the reply from Prof Dr A. Zubaid, "Bats just one natural way to control insect pests" (The Star, Oct 10).
I applaud Prof Zubaid for the succinct points he raised, particularly regarding wildlife disease.
Even in our enlightened age, bats continue to be maligned and blamed for a plethora of ills when, in fact, they are an important and significant component of biodiversity, playing a crucial role in forest ecology and performing many beneficial services not known to most people.
Dr Lee's letter demonstrates the widespread misconceptions and misunderstandings still prevalent regarding bats.
His statement that "introducing bats to our urban environment ... may be ... introducing another unwanted problem", in particular, shows his ignorance of the fact that we already share our urban environment with many different - and benign - species of bats, both fruit-eating and insectivorous.
(The original habitats of many of these species have disappeared due to the pressure of human settlement and activities.)
The scientists' recommendation was simply to attract more of them.
Lastly, with regards to it being a "lame proposal", in many other places such as Europe and North America, where the use of harmful pesticides such as DDT resulted in widespread ecological destruction, people have come to realise that sometimes the only sound means of eradicating a pest problem is through the biological approach, such as the introduction of the natural predator-prey system.
SHEEMA ABDUL AZIZ