The Donkey Sanctuary in Sidmouth is host to a new Greater Horseshoe Bat Project Bat Beacon.
The population of Greater Horseshoe Bats has declined by over 90% in the UK during the last century, with Devon now a stronghold for the species in the South West. Led by Devon Wildlife Trust and supported by the National Lottery, as well as other funders, The Devon Greater Horseshoe Bat Project has chosen to partner with The Donkey Sanctuary in Sidmouth to provide a local information hub, known as a ‘Bat Beacon’, where people can find out more about the project.
Ruth Angell, Wildlife and Conservation Co-ordinator at The Donkey Sanctuary, said:
“We are delighted to host the Bat Beacon in our Nature Centre, here at The Donkey Sanctuary. With display boards and a touch screen, including roost footage plus ‘Betty the Bat’ games, the new facility will inform people about this endangered species and entertain all ages.”
The launch of the Bat Beacon is one of many events taking place around the county as part of the Devon Greater Horseshoe Bat Project’s first Bat Festival, being held throughout September. The festival aims to help people of all ages discover more about this secretive animal and even take part in its long term conservation.
The location of The Donkey Sanctuary, Sidmouth, is very close to an important maternity roost of greater horseshoe bats. Most people do not realise that donkey dung provides a perfect home for dung beetles – one of the favourite foods of greater horseshoe bats. The Donkey Sanctuary actively aims to improve foraging habitat for bat species as part of its membership to Natural England’s Higher Level Stewardship scheme, which promotes best practice in relation to land management and the protection of farmland wildlife. The work undertaken benefits the donkeys through environmental enrichment. Furthermore, birds and bats eat flies and midges, which keeps the donkeys happy!
Located in the tranquil, rolling hills of East Devon and in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, The Donkey Sanctuary is also now home to a new Bat Trail. The 2.5 mile walk explores areas that bats love to live, including wildflower meadows, hedgerows and trees, as well as taking in magnificent coast and country views. You will even get the chance to meet some of the Sanctuary’s four-legged friends.
The Sanctuary cares for 500 donkeys at its Sidmouth site, including giant Poitou donkeys, gorgeous adoption donkeys and marvellous miniature donkeys. There is plenty for all the family to enjoy with guided walks, a maze, outdoor play area, restaurant and gift shop. Open 365 days of the year and with free admission and free parking, The Donkey Sanctuary in Sidmouth is a great value option all year round.