Beautiful striped bat is the “find of a lifetime” (photos)

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Scientists have uncovered a rare, brilliantly-striped bat in the that has yielded new secrets after close study. Working in Bangangai Game Reserve during July of last year, biologist DeeAnn Redeer and conservationist Adrian Garsdie with Fauna & Flora International (FFI) came across an unmissable bat, which has been dubbed by various media outlets as the “badger bat” and the “panda bat.”

“My attention was immediately drawn to the bat’s strikingly beautiful and distinct pattern of spots and stripes. It was clearly a very extraordinary animal, one that I had never seen before,” DeeAnn Reeder with Bucknell University says. “I knew the second I saw it that it was the find of a lifetime.”

After collecting a specimen, Reeder took the bat back to the U.S. and confirmed that it belongs to a species that was discovered over seventy years ago in the () in 1939. However, that wasn’t the end of the story.

“After careful analysis, it is clear that it doesn’t belong in the genus that it’s in right now,” Reeder explains. “Its cranial characters, its wing characters, its size, the ears—literally everything you look at doesn’t fit. It’s so unique that we need to create a new genus.”

Reeder and her team dubbed the new genus, Niumbaha, which means “unsual” or “rare” in the language of the local Azande people, changing the full name to Niumbaha superba, which translates to the rare superb bat. Since it’s discovery in 1939, the bat has only been recorded by scientists five times in the DRC, , and . Notably, Reeder’s discovery is the first time the species has ever been recorded in South Sudan, which only became an independent country in 2011.

In the paper, the scientists write that this is “one of the most extraordinary and rarest-collected in ,” but Reeder says more data would be need to estimate its population.

“It is surely very rare, but no reason to suspect it is endangered (except that, of course, habitat loss throughout Africa seriously threatens all ),” Reeder told mongabay.com. The species is currently listed as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List due largely to its massive range.

As far as is concerned, Reeder says, “The first thing is to preserve habitat. This bat was captured in the Bangangai Game Reserve—a protected area. It nearly always boils down to habitat preservation. Bats are often significantly challenged by the bushmeat trade—but I have seen no evidence of bats as food in South Sudan.”

For several decades South Sudan was off-limits to most scientists and conservationists given large-scale conflicts and instability, but the nation likely has a wealth of biological surprises.

“To me, this discovery is significant because it highlights the biological importance of South Sudan and hints that this new nation has many natural wonders yet to be discovered. South Sudan is a country with much to offer and much to protect,” says Matt Rice, FFI’s South Sudan country director. FFI is currently conducting several programs in the new country, including helping to manage Southern National Park, investigating the possibility of surviving northern white rhinos in the country, and aiding the government on conservation efforts.

Niumbaha superba. Photo by: DeeAnn Reeder.

Niumbaha superba. Photo by: DeeAnn Reeder.

Niumbaha superba. Photo by: DeeAnn Reeder.

Niumbaha superba. Photo by: DeeAnn Reeder.

DeeAnn Reeder and Matt Rice with Niumbaha superba specimen. Photo by: DeeAnn Reeder.

CITATION: Reeder DM, Helgen KM, Vodzak ME, Lunde DP, Ejotre I (2013) A new genus for a rare African vespertilionid bat: insights from South Sudan. ZooKeys 285: 89. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.285.4892

This article was written for Mongabay.com and reposted on Focusing on Wildlife.

Supertrooper

Founder and Executive Editor

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Elizabeth Fisher
Elizabeth Fisher

Did the bat really have to die? It was captured, frightened, handled awkwardly and inhumanely, and then killed because it was rare and beautiful. How very sad that this should be publicized as a valuable scientific discovery when it is nothing of the sort. Please, just leave the bats alone and go study rocks. You can’t hurt those.

Linda Goodwin Williams
Linda Goodwin Williams

The handling of a small bat needs to be done with care as to not cause pain and injury. The bat does feel pain. It is very sad to see a researcher using such harmful techniques and ultimately killing the poor animal. Sad sad sad

Glenp Rich
Glenp Rich

Please go to the library and sign out a bible – Look up Proverbs 12:10 and it will tell you to look after the animals. I cannot believe what happened to this animal. This s a disgrace to mankind

Lorraine Stern
Lorraine Stern

Shame on you, how could you firstly treat this beautiful little creature
so badly and then murder it all in the name of scientific study, you
make me ashamed to be a fellow human being.

Kat Milacek
Kat Milacek

DeeAnn Redeer and Matt Rice (and their funding and research organizations). I applaud you for your work as Biologists and Wildlife Conservations – dedicated to preserving our planet’s dwindling wildlife amongst so many different invasions – loss of habitat, illegal hunting, etc. I thank you for what you do! I too love wildlife so we are on the same side. I would, however, like to draw to your attention a kinder, more humane, way of handling bats. Their wings are like our arms – so when pinned out full length this is very painful. Please see Bat World Sanctuary’s website… Read more »

Kat Milacek
Kat Milacek

Agreed.

Theresa Foxx

Such a blatant disregard for life. How can anyone discover an animal then proceed to kill it? Such disgusting cruelty. If this is research then we're better off without it.

Monica V Lucas

Seriously? You dub a creature "beautiful," and "find of a lifetime," and manhandle and KILL IT? WTF is wrong with you? Cognitive dissonance much? Sick and twisted. Next time, leave your ego at home and take pictures rather than lives.

Anne Palyok

If this bat is so rare, why was it removed from its habitat and taken away from the opportunity to bred. It has been proven that bats can be studied without taking them from the wild. These rare bsts should be treasured, not dangled by their arms and then killed for "scientific" study. What a disgrace to this beautiful creature.

Liz Marshall

The late great bat is not unmissable to his or her family. He or she was not a new genus for them. He or she was not a trophy to them to be used to win more grant money 🙁

Cyndi Garrison

horrendous cruelty.

Kevin Wagner
Kevin Wagner

Jackie Vargus I am far from stupid as your uneducated mind want's to believe !!!!!! Go to a Museum and May be you will LEARN something!!!!!!!! SCIENCE IS A WONDERFUL THING!!!!!! It's how we LEARN about other Species!!!!!

Levi Koch Beckhauser

Nice (: Its a Molossidae? I wonder how is the correct way to hold a bat?

Kevin Wagner
Kevin Wagner

Taking One Bat for science does not hurt the whole Species!! Surely your making mountains out off mole hills!!! And they need to learn more about the Bat as that way they can save the Species. Seems that the only people that succeeded are the uneducated people like YOUR SELF!!! Go to a Museum and learn something!!!!!

Loretta Ouellette
Loretta Ouellette

Absolutely disgusting, I can see that neither of you care about the bat, just about claiming your fame for such a rare find!…So rare you had to torture it? Why don't both of you get janitorial jobs and go "man-handle" a toilet! Because you're nothing but "POS" anyway!

Levi Koch Beckhauser

Vespertilionid OK

Inge McCullough
Inge McCullough

Little piebald bat..how cute.

Linsey Church
Linsey Church

I’m sure you could have learned a lot more from this beautiful being will keeping it alive and healthy as apposed to torturing it and then killing it. This is NOT what conservation is about. Shame on you.

Tamiep
Tamiep

So, why the hell was this bat killed? Can scientists not observe without killing? Complete idiocy!

Connie Woods
Connie Woods

Why would you ever, EVER want to hurt this beautiful creature, manhandle it the way that you did, hold it up by it’s wings and then kill it? What is wrong with you people. Why kill this beautiful and rare creature just to get some notoriety. Despicable and cruel! If you have not evolved to a level of appreciating nature you really are not qualified to handle it! Disgusting and sad! The two of you in the picture should be ashamed of yourselves.

Terri Dee
Terri Dee

Reeder said, “The first thing is to preserve habitat.” Actually, the first thing would have been to handle the bat appropriately and with care, take a few photos and measurements, and then return it to its habitat.

Gwen Kirchner
Gwen Kirchner

So sad that is beautiful and unique bat was tortured and then killed. If you are a scientist and care about these fragile and wonderful creatures you should be ashamed of yourself for treating one so cruelly.

Lynnie59
Lynnie59

I say a big SHAME ON YOU so called “researchers” for causing suffering and pain to this special helples creature! How do you sleep at night and live with what you did here?! You can research in a humane,compassionate way, take pictures, and release the animals. Yes, it WAS special, but, now it’s just dead, thanks to you. Stretching its wings out like that and I’m sure you have studied about how delicate their bodies and wings are, YET, you inflicted that pain and abuse to celebrate your “Find”…many people are really upset, angered and disappointed in your deeds here..We… Read more »

Shelby Brogdon Walden
Shelby Brogdon Walden

Well, the bat WAS beautiful until humans had to put their hands in and kill it. Someday we will learn life is precious andb that we can learn more by studying life than death.

Teri Davis
Teri Davis

wow you found something so rare and your first instinct was to torture it then kill it um I think their habitat needs protected from you!

Millieme Plateau
Millieme Plateau

torturing and killing performed and promoted as “research”???
Utterly disgusting… shame on you, DeeAnn Reader and the team

Joanne Campbell
Joanne Campbell

I will not be polite or kind about the unnecessary or cruel handling and senseless killing of this beautiful animal!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You should be shot for what you did!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! May God punish you for your cruelty and greed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! These animals should be saved and protected not killed!!!!!!!!! MAY YOU ROT IN HELL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Marty Soulshine Salmiak Abl
Marty Soulshine Salmiak Abl

Can you explain why if “this is a wonder of nature”, you handle it like an object and finally kill it!!!?? Ah … i have forgotten! you said” it was not endangered !!” is it science or butchery??? I am SHOCKED . I am going to share that in my country France to show people what so-called scientists do with innocent living beings . What about ethics? C’est répugnant!

Emily Kays
Emily Kays

This “researcher” put the bat through an immense amount of pain by holding it the way that she did, particularly in the first photo. Then this “find of a life time” was KILLED for notoriety. Disgusting. I can’t believe some researchers.

Hazel Youngs
Hazel Youngs

Nothing has been gained as a result of your complete lack of respect and regard for your ‘find of a lifetime’ prize. Trying to legitimize trophy hunting and cruelty with the claim of scientific inquiry and pursuit.

Kay Yocum Brady
Kay Yocum Brady

I can’t believe that a site called “Focusing on Wildlife” would celebrate these inhumane “researchers” who captured this poor, defenseless creature and then KILLED it to add to the Smithsonian’s collection. Completely disgusting.

Marla Wise Miller
Marla Wise Miller

What is it with the human race? Why do so many ‘for the sake of science’ think killing is the only way to study and learn about something??? Stupidity will be the end of all things created!!!!! May they suffer what this poor creature suffered at their hands!

Julie Corke-Barnoski
Julie Corke-Barnoski

Those people ought to be very ashamed of themselves. What a disgusting way to show off! Find something beautiful and kill it?!?! Why can’t you just leave nature alone!! Just because it is unique does NOT give us the right to pluck it out of existence just because we are curious or because we WANT it for ourselves. This is so infuriating! Disgusting excuse of a human being! Things are alive, things we don’t even know about.. it’s crazy I know but can’t we just enjoy living things and not dissect everything that we don’t understand? Who the hell cares… Read more »

Kellysnotcute Orfluffy Likeaki
Kellysnotcute Orfluffy Likeaki

How cruel to torture a beautiful rare lifeform then destroy it in the name of science. Shame on you all!

Stella Wicker
Stella Wicker

That little creature did not deserve to die! You should feel bad for hurting it and killing it.

Aries84
Aries84

Why can’t you be humane to these beautiful creatures? Please do NOT handle any more bats for ANY reason until you learn the proper way to do it without harming the innocent animal

Amanda Lollar
Amanda Lollar

There is no reason for any researcher to inflict pain on any living thing. Photos that show bats being held wings outstretched and by their incredibly delicate finger tips, or with their elbows pinned toward their backs in dangerous and agonizing positions, does little to promote bat conservation. In fact, photos like this ultimately mar the reputation of the researcher involved because it appears to the public that the handler would rather inflict pain and injury simply to save a few moments of time in being humane. This bat suffered greatly before being killed as an apparent trophy. For more… Read more »

Susan Lee

I wonder why these have evolved so? Can it be a bird-coloring-mimic or an imitation of a poisonous insect as is the case between the viceroy and monarch butterflies? A mystery wrapped in an enigma! Thank you for this article.