2nd June 2015

The Romanian Bat Protection Association has visited the Bat Conservation Trust offices in London to learn all about the National Bat Helpline in order to set up a helpline for bats in Romania.

Members of the Romanian Bat Protection Association came to London as one of the first steps along a long road to setting up a successful helpline. The Association gets calls asking about bats in general and injured bats so a dedicated helpline number is desperately needed. They chose to come to ask BCT for help because of ties with BCT through BatLife Europe.

Although they knew the basics about the helpline before getting here, they had an intensive morning of talks and meetings to understand how the National Bat Helpline was set up in 2001 and the day-to-day running of the helpline; before heading to a local bat hospital to learn about bat care. A major revelation was the large number of calls that the helpline receives in the busy summer months. They also learnt about the procedure followed during calls and how to simplify responses to benefit the caller and responder as well as the benefiting the welfare of the bat when suggestions for their care are understood correctly.

It is exciting to help at the start of a large project like this although there is still a daunting mountain to climb - especially if you are alone in manning the phone and have no idea how many people will call!

The next step for the Romanian Bat Protection Association is to report back on the meetings in London, to form their own protocols for calls and bat care and then to get a number! They will advertise the new service through their website, a network of environment organisations, Natura2000 network as well as informing the police, who often get calls about bats. They will produce leaflets and a mini guide on what to do when a bat is found.

Although the bat care network in Romania is not as extensive as that in England, the leaders of bat groups are able to help look after injured bats and they will establish a bat hospital and hibernacula to look after bats that require more support and need looking after in winter.

"It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to exchange experiences with our friends from the Romanian Bat Protection Association, especially to learn about the number of species in Romania and the size of the largest multi-species roost (in a cave)." - Amanda Adebisi (National Bat Helpline Manager)

Further information:

National Bat Helpline information: http://www.bats.org.uk/pages/helpline.html

Donations to the National Bat Helpline: https://www.justgiving.com/Helpline-bat-care-appeal/

Romanian Bat Protection Association: http://aplr.ro/?lang=en

BatLife Europe: http://www.batlife-europe.info/