Expelling Bats from a Primary School in Kahendero, Kasese Municipality

During the OH Field Attachments in Kasese Municipality, a multidisciplinary team of about fifteen students Social Scientists (4), Environmental Health Scientists (2), Meteologist (1), Biomedical Laboratory Technologist (1), Telecommunications Engineer (1) Industrial and Organisational Psychologist (1), Soft Ware Engineer (1), Wild Life Conservationist (1), Veterinary Medicine (1), Medical Doctor (1) and Development Worker (1), Veterinarians, Environmental Health officers, Wildlife Health Management Officers, Medical Doctors and Social Scientists) encountered a problem of bats in Kahendero Primary School.

Bats are probable reservoirs of Haemorrhagic Fevers - Ebola, Marburg etc. and rabies. They also emit offensive odours making inhabiting houses where there are colonies of bats difficult.

Previous solutions offered by the Veterinary and Wildlife departments included fumigating the bats and disposing of the dead ones - this was done at Kahendero Health Centre. However, they do return after a period of time and the fumes are toxic to the community especially the occupants of the houses.

One Health Solution offered by the OH Kaseses Multidisciplinary team had three aspects.

Educate the community on the dangers of the bats - the school children, teachers and other interested members of the public were all targeted.

However, bats are also useful to the ecosystem and therefore if it were possible the colonies of bats should be encouraged to relocate back to the bushes and trees instead of colonizing the houses. The students came up with an ecosystem friendly bat repellent made out of ethno substances (eucalyptus bark and leaves and cinnamon) which, when applied to the houses would successfully expel the bats. The pungent smell of the oils from these plants is a good repellent. In order to extract these oils a solution of alcohol was needed and a local gin popularly known as ‘kasese’ was easily obtained. To be able to apply the ecosystem friendly ethno-bat repellent to the buildings paint was used as a base to enable the repellent remain for a longer period of time.

The gaps in the school building between the roof and the walls, which the bats were using to access the school buildings had to be sealed off to prevent them from returning. The students from the College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT) sealed all gaps in the roof with a cement and mortar base to prevent re-entry by the bats.

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