Ultra-rare bat found after 22 years

A critically endangered bat, found only once and unseen in its main territory for 22 years, has been captured in a former US army training area.

And, as is the nature of such things, after none being seen for more than two decades, researchers caught three in quick succession.

The male Yanbaru whiskered bats (Myotis yanbarensis) were all caught by Jason Preble from Kyoto University in Japan. They were located in the subtropical Yanbaru Forest on the island of Okinawa – the first to be found there since an initial discovery in 1996. The area was once used by the US military.

The bat is listed as critically endangered – and was feared extinct.

Preble caught the animals by using a high-tech acoustic lure that sends out synthesised bat calls. The whiskered bats responded to the sounds, allowing not only their capture but also, for the first time, an accurate recording of their echolocation signals.

After examining them and fitting each with a radio-tracker, all the bats were released into the wild. The achievement was reported by the university.

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