The discovery of a new species of bat in the Nimba mountains of Guinea by a team of researchers is hailed as good news for the biodiversity of the region.
“It was kind of a life goal in a way, one that I never thought would happen,” says Jon Flanders, director of endangered species interventions at Bat Conservation International, an American nonprofit organization. “Every species is important, but you get drawn to the interesting-looking ones, and this one really is spectacular.” Myotis nimbaensis, also known as the orangutan-hued bat, has a fiery orange body and black wings.
This new species of bat is at least 5% different from its closest related relatives. It joins the ranks of the 1,400 species of bats – and counting since more than 20 new ones are added each year to the list. Bats play an important role in the preservation of West Africa’s biodiversity because they disperse seeds, pollinate plants and keep insect species in check. The researchers will now focus on learning more about the bat’s ecology. “The more we know about it, the more we’ll know how to protect it as well,” says Dr. Flanders. “It’s probably endangered just by virtue of living in this small part of the planet.”