Bats as conservationists

Published: Monday 31 May 1999

the secret behind the preservation of centuries-old caves and painting seems to have been revealed. According to conservationists, silver fish, wasps and other insects that destroy rock paintings do not make caves their home once they smell the presence of their natural enemy -- the bat.

Though bats themselves could do some damage to the paintings through their sharp claws, but their urine acts as a permanent repellent to other insects which destroy the paintings. Chemical tests have proved the presence of hippuric acid and benzoic acid in the urine of bats emitting odour.

According to archaeological chemist B R N Sharma from Aurangabad in Maharashtra, the decay of the paintings is due to the use of fumigants such as toxide gas for eliminating bats and insects and spraying of pyrethrum and other insecticides to check abnormal growth of silver fish.

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