Southern Bent-wing Bat cave audit gets underway in South East SA

Last year, the southern bent-wing bat took out the inaugural title of Australian Mammal of the Year after a fierce competition of public voting. This small insectivorous bat has a limited distribution in the Limestone Coast region of South Australia and western Victoria, and after a drastic population decline in the latter part of the 20th century, was listed as critically endangered in 2000.

While most other bats in our region roost in trees, the southern bent-wing bat lives only in caves – and if you know anything about the Limestone Coast you’ll know we have a lot of those! The caves that the bats use are located on both private and public land throughout the region from Robe in the west to Marcollat in the north, with many in the lower South East around Mt Gambier.

Southern bent-wing bat. Photo: Steve Bourne

NGT recently received a grant to conduct an audit of southern bent-wing bat caves in the Limestone Coast with the aim of collecting an up-to-date picture of how the habitat is looking at these critical sites.

Fieldwork began late last year with site visits to caves within the plantation forestry landscape. Southern bent-wing bats are known to be shy of obstructions in the entrances of caves, so we noted sites where we observed blackberry and other weeds that may block flight paths.

A recent site visit found the mouth of this cave full of blackberry

Management of these weeds is now already underway at some sites which will ensure their ongoing suitability as habitat for this valuable species.

Fieldwork is ongoing and a summary of the findings will be reported to the National Recovery Team for the species next month.

This project is supported by the Limestone Coast Landscape Board’s Grassroots Grants program, funded by the regional landscape levy.

Rose Thompson