Skip to main content

Hunting Bats for Human Consumption in Bangladesh

Abstract

Bats are important wildlife to their ecologic system, but they are also a zoonotic disease reservoir. Close bat–human interaction can lead to pathogen spillover. We conducted a qualitative study in two districts of Bangladesh and interviewed 30 bat hunters who hunt bats primarily for consumption, to understand the process and their reasons for hunting bats and their perceptions about bats and bat-borne disease. Most hunters catch bats during winter nights, using a net. Bat meat is used for household consumption, and the surplus is sold to cover household expenditures. They prepare the bat meat at home to sell it in their own and in neighboring communities. They also sell live bats to traditional healers. They report that the bat population has declined compared with 5 or 10 years ago, a decline they attribute to hunting and deforestation. Many have heard of a disease from bat-contaminated date palm sap but do not believe that bats can spread such disease to humans. Close bat–human interaction reported in this study pose a risk of pathogen spillover. Conservation initiatives have the potential to reduce such interaction and so both reduce disease risk and support the ecology.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  • Ahammad, R., M. K. Hossain, and P. Husnain. 2014. Governance of forest conservation and co-benefits for Bangladesh under changing climate. Journal of Forestry Research 25:29-36.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Barrett, R., and P. J. Brown. 2008. Stigma in the time of influenza: social and institutional responses to pandemic emergencies. J Infect Dis 197 Suppl 1:S34-S37.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Brashares, J. S., C. D. Golden, K. Z. Weinbaum, C. B. Barrett, and G. V. Okello. 2011. Economic and geographic drivers of wildlife consumption in rural Africa. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 108:13931-13936.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Calisher, C. H., J. E. Childs, H. E. Field, K. V. Holmes, and T. Schountz. 2006. Bats: important reservoir hosts of emerging viruses. Clin Microbiol Rev 19:531-545.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Chowdhury, M. S. H., C. Gudmundsson, S. Izumiyama, M. Koike, N. Nazia, M. P. Rana, S. A. Mukul, N. Muhammed, and M. Redowan. 2014. Community attitudes toward forest conservation programs through collaborative protected area management in Bangladesh. Environment, Development and Sustainability 16:1235-1252.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Chowdhury, M. S. H., M. Koike, and N. Muhammed. 2009. Embracing Collaborative Protected Area Management for Conservation: An Analysis of the Development of the Forest Policy of Bangladesh. International Forestry Review 11:359-374.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Coltart, C. E., B. Lindsey, I. Ghinai, A. M. Johnson, and D. L. Heymann. 2017. The Ebola outbreak, 2013-2016: old lessons for new epidemics. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 372:20160297.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Eaton, B. T., C. C. Broder, D. Middleton, and L. F. Wang. 2006. Hendra and Nipah viruses: different and dangerous. Nat Rev Microbiol 4:23-35.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gustafsson, M., J. Ekholm, and A. Ohman. 2004. From shame to respect: musculoskeletal pain patients’ experience of a rehabilitation programme, a qualitative study. Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine 36:97-103.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Halpin, K., A. D. Hyatt, R. Fogarty, D. Middleton, J. Bingham, J. H. Epstein, S. A. Rahman, T. Hughes, C. Smith, H. E. Field, P. Daszak, Henipavirus Ecology Research Group. 2011. Pteropid bats are confirmed as the reservoir hosts of henipaviruses: a comprehensive experimental study of virus transmission. Am J Trop Med Hyg 85:946-951.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jones, E., S. R. Lattof, and E. Coast. 2017. Interventions to provide culturally-appropriate maternity care services: factors affecting implementation. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth 17:267.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kamins, A. O., O. Restif, Y. Ntiamoa-Baidu, R. Suu-Ire, D. T. Hayman, A. A. Cunningham, J. L. Wood, and J. M. Rowcliffe. 2011. Uncovering the fruit bat bushmeat commodity chain and the true extent of fruit bat hunting in Ghana, West Africa. Biol Conserv 144:3000-3008.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Khan, M. A. R. 2001. Staus and distribution of bats in Bangladesh with notes on their ecology. Zoos’ Print Journal 16:479-483.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kunz, T. H., E. Braun de Torrez, D. Bauer, T. Lobova, and T. H. Fleming. 2011. Ecosystem services provided by bats. Ann N Y Acad Sci 1223:1-38.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lane, D. J. W., T. Kingston, and B. Lee. 2006. Dramatic decline in bat species richness in Singapore, with implication for Southeast Asia. Biological Conservation 131:584-593.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Leach, M., and M. Tadros. 2014. Epidemics and the politics of knowledge: contested narratives in Egypt’s H1N1 response. Med Anthropol 33:240-254.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Luby, S. P. 2013. The pandemic potential of Nipah virus. Antiviral Res 100:38-43.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lyons, T., K. Shannon, L. Pierre, W. Small, A. Krusi, and T. Kerr. 2015. A qualitative study of transgender individuals’ experiences in residential addiction treatment settings: stigma and inclusivity. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention and Policy 10:17.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mickleburgh, S., K. Waylen, and P. Racey. 2009. Bats as bushmeat: a global review. Oryx 43:217-234.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mickleburgh, S. P., A. M. Huston, and P. A. Racey. 2002. A review of the global conservation status of bats Oryx 36:18.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mildenstein, T., I. Tanshi, and P. A. Racey. 2016. Exploitation of Bats for Bushmeat and Medicine. Pages 325-376 in C. C. Voigt and T. Kingston, editors. Bats in the Anthropocene: Conservation of Bats in a Changing World. SpringerOpen.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Muscarella, R., and T. H. Fleming. 2007. The role of frugivorous bats in tropical forest succession. Biol Rev Camb Philos Soc 82:573-590.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Nahar, N., R. C. Paul, R. Sultana, S. A. Sumon, K. C. Banik, J. Abedin, M. Asaduzzaman, F. Garcia, S. Zimicki, M. Rahman, E. S. Gurley, and S. P. Luby. 2017. A Controlled Trial to Reduce the Risk of Human Nipah Virus Exposure in Bangladesh. Ecohealth 14:501-517.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Nahar, N., M. Uddin, R. A. Sarkar, E. S. Gurley, M. S. Uddin Khan, M. J. Hossain, R. Sultana, and S. P. Luby. 2013. Exploring pig raising in Bangladesh: implications for public health interventions. Vet Ital 49:7-17.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Openshaw, J. J., S. Hegde, H. M. S. Sazzad, S. U. Khan, M. J. Hossain, J. H. Epstein, P. Daszak, E. S. Gurley, and S. P. Luby. 2017. Bat Hunting and Bat–Human Interactions in Bangladeshi Villages: Implications for Zoonotic Disease Transmission and Bat Conservation. Transbound Emerg Dis 64:1287-1293.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Padmawati, S., and M. Nichter. 2008. Community response to avian flu in Central Java, Indonesia. Anthropol Med 15:31-51.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Plowright, R. K., P. Eby, P. J. Hudson, I. L. Smith, D. Westcott, W. L. Bryden, D. Middleton, P. A. Reid, R. A. McFarlane, G. Martin, G. M. Tabor, L. F. Skerratt, D. L. Anderson, G. Crameri, D. Quammen, D. Jordan, P. Freeman, L. F. Wang, J. H. Epstein, G. A. Marsh, N. Y. Kung, and H. McCallum. 2015. Ecological dynamics of emerging bat virus spillover. Proc Biol Sci 282:20142124.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Reddy, C. S., S. V. Pasha, C. S. Jha, P. G. Diwakar, and V. K. Dadhwal. 2016. Development of national database on long-term deforestation (1930–2014) in Bangladesh. Global and Planetary Change 139:173-182.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Salam, M. A., and T. Noguchi. 1998. Factors Influencing the Loss of Forest Cover in Bangladesh: An Analysis from Socioeconomic and Demographic Perspectives. Journal of Forest Research 3:145-150.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Schneeberger, K., and C. C. Voigt. 2016. Zoonotic Viruses and Conservation of Bats. Pages 263-292 in C. C. Voigt and T. Kingston, editors. Bats in the Anthropocene: Conservation of Bats in a Changing World. Springer International Publishing, Cham.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Smith, I., and L.-F. Wang. 2013. Bats and their virome: an important source of emerging viruses capable of infecting humans. Current Opinion in Virology 3:84-91.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Struebig, M. J., M. E. Herrison, S. M. Cheyne, and S. H. Limin. 2007. Intensive hunting of large flying foxes Pteropus vampyrus natunae in Central Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. Oryx 41:390-393.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Suwannarong, K., and S. Schuler. 2016. Bat consumption in Thailand. Infect Ecol Epidemiol 6:29941.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • The World Bank (2018) The World Bank Data. Forest area (% of land area), 1990-2015. Retrieved from https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/AG.LND.FRST.ZS?locations=BD 16 October 2018.

  • Wolfe, N. D., P. Daszak, A. M. Kilpatrick, and D. S. Burke. 2005. Bushmeat hunting, deforestation, and prediction of zoonoses emergence. Emerg Infect Dis 11:1822-1827.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wong, S., S. Lau, P. Woo, and K. Y. Yuen. 2007. Bats as a continuing source of emerging infections in humans. Rev Med Virol 17:67-91.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Yob, J. M., H. Field, A. M. Rashdi, C. Morrissy, B. van der Heide, P. Rota, A. bin Adzhar, J. White, P. Daniels, A. Jamaluddin, and T. Ksiazek. 2001. Nipah virus infection in bats (order Chiroptera) in Peninsular Malaysia. Emerg Infect Dis 7:439-441.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

Support for this study was provided by FHI 360 with funds from USAID Cooperative Agreement GHN-A-00-09-00002-00; this study was made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). icddr,b acknowledges with gratitude the commitment of FHI 360 to the Centre’s research efforts. icddr,b is thankful to the Governments of Bangladesh, Canada, Sweden and the UK for providing core/unrestricted support. We are grateful to all the study participants for their valuable time. We acknowledge the continuous support of Professor Marcel Tanner from Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Nazmun Nahar.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. The interviewers obtained written informed consent prior to conducting the interviews. The team did not record information that can identify the particular informant and labeled each interview with a number. Human subject review committees at icddr,b and FHI 360 approved the study protocol.

Electronic Supplementary Material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 14 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Nahar, N., Asaduzzaman, M., Mandal, U.K. et al. Hunting Bats for Human Consumption in Bangladesh. EcoHealth 17, 139–151 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10393-020-01468-x

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10393-020-01468-x

Keywords

  • Bats
  • Nipah virus infection
  • Hunting
  • Zoonosis
  • Qualitative research
  • Bangladesh