Visiting the Meletse Bat Research & Training Ctr.

Merlin with Ernest Seamark at the entrance to Gatkop Cave
Merlin with Ernest Seamark at the entrance to the cave

We spent three days at the Meletse Bat Research & Training Center in the Meletse Mountain Valley at a very nice facility owned by Aquila Steel South Africa. This company also owns the nearby Gatkop Cave, home to one of South Africa’s most important bat caves, which it protects along with surrounding habitat in collaboration with AfricanBats (AfricanBats Facebook Page) a nonprofit conservation organization founded by Ernest Seamark. The company has generously permitted use of its facility as a center for bat research. Mining operations will be located approximately four kilometers away.

Short-eared trident bat (Cleotis persivali)
Short-eared trident bat (Cleotis persivali)

The Gatkop Cave is home to as many as 250,000 Natal long-fingered bats (Miniopterus natalensis) and at least seven additional species of bats, including four of our favorites, the Short-eared trident bat (Cleotis persivali), the Peak-saddle horsehoe bat (Rhinolophus blasii), the Common slit-face bat (Nycteris theobaica) and the Sandevall’s leaf-nosed bat, (Hipposideros caffer).


Peak-saddle horsehoe bat (Rhinolophus blasii)
Peak-saddle horsehoe bat (Rhinolophus blasii)

On our first night, we were joined by two Ph.D. students, Stewart and Terrence, from Dr. Wanda Markotter’s lab at the University of Pretoria. They joined Ernest and Merlin in setting a small bat trap in a flyway near the cave entrance. Over the next two evenings we were able to capture and photograph eight bat species there. Also, Merlin enjoyed the opportunity to discuss shared concerns regarding recently sensationalized reports of diseases linked to bats as well as management options  for the cave.

Common slit-faced bat (Nycteris theobaica)
Common slit-faced bat (Nycteris theobaica)


Sandevall's leaf-nosed bat, (Hipposideros caffer)
Sandevall’s leaf-nosed bat, (Hipposideros caffer)




3 thoughts on “Visiting the Meletse Bat Research & Training Ctr.

  1. I am an international reseacher interested in your upcoming workers training on bats. will be glad if you sent my more information and contacts on this event


    1. Hi Clement,

      I’m not planning anything in the near future. You may want to get in touch with Ernest Seamark with the Meletse Bat Research & Training Center, if that is in our area. Let me know if I can be of further assistance.

      My best,

  2. Hi Paula, thanks for your response. I am actually interested in Ernest Seamark’s Bat fieldworkers’ training at Meletse in November 2015. I have tried to contact them through “African Bats” to no avail. I will appreciate if you could get across to them on my behalf , specifically I need their contact E-mail or phone number, information on how to enroll for the November trip, associated costs and travel logistics. Thanks for your kindness.

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