Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve, or Te Hoiere, is home to one of the last remaining populations of long tailed bats in Marlborough.
Long tailed bat
Long tailed bats (Chalinolobus tuberculatus) are chestnut brown with small ears and a long tail. They weigh about 8-11 grams and roost in tree hollows and caves. In winter long tailed bats go into a “torpor” - which is a state between hibernation and sleep. They’ll will not move for up to 10 days in order to preserve energy.
Photo: Kerry Weston.
A small population of long-tailed bats roost in the large forest around the bridge and camp site. On warm summer evenings, bats can sometimes be seen in the twilight, circling high in the forest canopy or flying along the river.
Later at night, they can often be glimpsed foraging for moths above the street lights.
Before humans settled in New Zealand about 700 years ago, three bat species were widespread and abundant. Now bats are rarely seen.
One species (the greater short-tailed bat) is already extinct and without intervention, the other two species (short-tailed and long-tailed bats) will probably be extinct on the mainland within 50 years.
The catastrophic and ongoing decline in New Zealand’s bats is a result of the mammalian predators (rats, stoats and cats) that arrived with humans. New Zealand’s largest bat species, the greater short-tailed bat, died out on the mainland soon after Pacific rats arrived with Maori settlers.
The other two bat species were still common during the early 19th century, but have since almost disappeared under the onslaught of mammalian predators that arrived with European settlers.
With the assistance of volunteers, Forest & Bird has initiated a predator
trapping programme to protect the Pelorus Bridge bat population.
Forest & Bird’s work is supported by the Stout Trust, Ngati Kuia, The NZ Lottery Grants Board and the Department of Conservation