FAISALABAD-The University of Agriculture Faisalabad scientists have discovered two new bat species from Pakistan. It is almost after 50 years that new mammal species has been recorded in the country.

Department of Zoology and Fisheries Associate Professor Dr Muhammad Mahmoodul Hassan, with his PhD student Muhammad Salim designed a study to investigate bat fauna of Malakand Division. The study was funded by the Bat Conservation International, USA.

Fruits bat plays a vital role in pollination, seed dispersal and natural forest regeneration, while insectivorous bats control harmful insects of crops and different disease vectors.

Both scientists thoroughly surveyed the area and recorded two new hitherto unrecorded bat species i.e. Miniopterus fuliginosus and Myotis formosus in north western Pakistan. Miniopterus fuliginosus was captured from Barcharai Daim in Malakand district while Myotis formosus was captured from Chinai Ghaz in Dir, Wach Khwar in Swat and Barcharai Diam in Malakand districts, respectively.

Dr Muhammad Mahmoodul Hassan said with these two newly recorded species, the bat fauna in Pakistan reached to 55 species and the mammal fauna of the country reached to 195.

He claimed more than 300 plants species in tropical region alone relay on pollination service of fruits bat.  The pollination of many important fruits like mango, dates, banana and figs depend on fruits bat only.

He said that bats were also important in Pakistan for another issue: the Nipah virus-related disease outbreak in Bangladesh since 2001, as well as other viral diseases such as Ebola, SARS, Hendra and MERS in other parts of the world.

"Bats are coming in close contact of human due to rapid destruction of bat habitats and scarcity of natural food in the forest. The risk of disease transmission is getting higher due to human and bats interface, he claimed.

He said that bat were important both from environmental and human health perspective. In order to safeguard both human and environmental health, it was necessary to conduct basic research on bat ecology and their conservation.