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Bat species and their populations are declining globally due to a variety of anthropogenic activities. Human activities, motivated by negative attitudes toward, perceptions of, and poor knowledge and appreciation of these animals, have a major effect on their conservation. Thus, it is important to improve our understanding of bat–human interactions to help design appropriate bat conservation measures. We investigated human–bat interactions in a sample (n = 423) of people living around the Omo Forest Reserve and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Southwestern Nigeria. People who considered themselves more vulnerable to disease transmission from bats held more negative perceptions of and beliefs about bats. A major finding in this study suggests that respondents’ perceived vulnerability to diseases from bats did not correlate with destructive behaviors toward bats. Participants with a low level of education intentionally killed more bats than those with a higher level of education. The majority of the participants did not appreciate the role of bats in ecosystems and had a poor understanding of bats’ niche in nature and the resulting benefits for humans. We suggest that positive messages that neutralize superstition and myths and highlight the role of bats in ecosystems are urgently needed. They could lead to behavioral changes that benefit bats.
Anthrozoös – Taylor & Francis
Published: May 4, 2023
Keywords: Chiroptera; conservation; disease risk; human–animal interaction; myths; wildlife
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