Understanding local knowledge and attitudes towards bats in Teso sub-region
Oulu Oketch, James
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Over years, bats have been considered among the most ignored and mysterious mammals worldwide. With over 1300 bat species found across the globe, they constitute the second largest group of mammals on this planet. In Uganda 90 species are said to occur. However, a more recent study puts them at 98 with more discoveries. This study focused on understanding community knowledge and attitudes towards bats in selected districts; Amuria, Kapelebyong and Katakwi in Teso sub region. The objectives of the study were to assess rural residents’ attitudes towards bats, assess community knowledge and behavior toward bats and to assess community’s environmental attitudes in relation to bats among the people. Data was collected using semi-structured questionnaires and a total of 275 respondents from Amuria, Kapelebyong and Katakwi districts were interviewed. Results showed that socio-demographic parameters influence knowledge and attitudes towards bats. Majority of the respondents were variably knowledgeable about bats; very little 41.6%, some 33.8%, a fair amount 10.7% and those that know a great deal at 9.3%. However, very few knew nothing about bats. This study suggests that the lack of knowledge about bats has had a great impact on the human bat interactions and behaviours that have constrained conservation of the species under study. This could be harmonised through comprehensive risk communication and education strategy through multisectorial collaborations. This will help in behavioral change by people towards bats and the natural environment thus averting the risks of future depletion of the environment and extinction of the bat species.