Hamilton Gardens may soon have some special new residents, with six artificial bat houses to be installed at the site this week as part of Project Echo.
Project Echo is a multi-agency collaborative initiative to encourage the conservation of long-tailed bats in Hamilton’s urban areas, and to monitor what is hoped will be a growth in their population. Hamilton City Council (through its Parks and Gardens Unit, Hamilton Zoo and Waikato Museum) is one of eight partners in the project, alongside University of Waikato, Wintec, Waikato Regional Council, Riverlea Environment Society, Trust Waikato, Waikato Tree Trust, the Department of Conservation and Trust Waikato.
On Thursday (December 15), six new bat houses of various designs will be installed at multiple locations around Hamilton Gardens, and a seventh box will be fixed in place next year. The gardens, with their range of tall exotic trees and sheltered areas, have been identified as a good location for the tiny winged mammals, which are endemic to New Zealand.
Darren Le Roux, Project Echo co-founder, says the installation of the bat boxes is an early Christmas present for the reclusive animals.
“Hamilton Gardens is in an area of real interest to the bats: they depend on well connected forest fragments along the river margins south of Cobham Drive bridge. They may not take up residence in the boxes initially, but this is a long-term investment in the bat population in our city,” he says.
Hamilton Gardens Director Peter Sergel says: “Visitors to Hamilton Gardens are not likely to see much of the bats, as they are largely nocturnal, but if any bats do move in, the gardens environment should have an ample supply of their preferred insect diet.
“And it’s great for our facility to be a part of such an important ecological project.”
A further nine bat houses, including one at Hamilton Gardens, will be installed early next year 2012.