Village turns safe habitat for endangered species
STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE
Kendrapara, 16 July
Thanks to the animal-friendly endeavor by local people, a sleepy riverside village under Garadapur block in Kendrapara district has turned into a safe habitat for endangered bats.
The local residents have come forward to ensure the safety of the bats. Not long back poaching of bats was rampant in these areas. However the delicate species are firmly ensconced in the village with people keeping tight vigil on poaching activity.        
“The banyan trees on the banks of Paika river is abuzz with soothing cacophony. The sight of hundreds of bats clinging on to the branches of two banyan trees adds to the natural beauty of Kundilo village. These harmless creatures have become major attraction. The villagers have made it a point to feed them with grains. Due care is taken so that the mammals are not disturbed in their habitat”, said Prakash Jena, who heads Evergreen Forum an environment protection outfit.
There was a general belief that raw meat of bats cured respiratory and asthmatic ailments. That&’s why, bats were being killed indiscriminately. We convinced the people that consuming bat meat was not the remedy to get the better of asthma. People later discarded the myth and pledged to save these endangered species, he said.       
"People have now nurtured the belief that the bats are harbinger of peace and prosperity. Killing them would invite danger to the village. The natural beauty of the place is heightened by the sight of thousands of bats hanging from the branches of the large trees. We have formed a bat conservation committee to protect bats. This has resulted in rise in the number of bats inhabiting in the village", observed Diptiranjan Kanungo, a local.
The committee has decided to impose penalty on anybody found catching bats or causing harm to the species, he said.
The species numbered less than one hundred about four to five years back in the village.
Now their population has shot up to more than one thousand because of perceptive change in people&’s mindset.