Project Echo is a Waikato Regional Council led programme studying the distribution of bats throughout Hamilton City. It aims to identify possible roost sites and drives campaigns to raise public awareness of these nocturnal animals. Bats are New Zealand’s only native terrestrial mammals, and both species— longtailed (Chalinolobus tuberculatus) and lesser shorttailed (Mystacina tuberculata) bats are classified as threatened.
Kessels & Associates was a main contributor to a comprehensive city-wide survey of the Hamilton longtailed bat population between September 2011 and February 2012. Over this period, a total of 62 sites, including urban parks, gullies and semi-rural areas of bush were surveyed for the presence of bats – a combined area of more than 600 ha.
The survey provided interesting insights into the local long-tailed bat population. Bats were detected at 16 out of these sites, six of which were identified as potential roosting sites.
As most of the sites with detected bat activity were riparian margins and major gullies, the Waikato River and its connected gully and stream systems seem to provide significant roosting, foraging and commuting habitat for bats. No lesser short-tailed bats were detected at any habitat and it is assumed that this species is locally extinct.
A lot of support for this project came from Gerard Kelly and the Waikato Tree Trust, with most of the work completed by Darren Le Roux, Noa Le Roux and Hannah Mueller.