Another hazard to our urban wildlife: Bats and electrocution

Anvitha S writes:

The sightings of fruit eating bats hanging dead on power lines have become increasingly common nowadays. These bats are victims of the poor electric wiring system of our country. In most cases they get caught in the power lines while flying to a tree that has either grown through a power line or is very close to it.

 An electrocuted bat hangs from the electric wires. Pic: Anvitha S.

An electrocuted bat hangs from the electric wires. Pic: Anvitha S.

I happened to see one such electrocuted bat in August. There was a fruiting fig tree very close to a power line in Hampinagar. It used to attract many bats. The temptation of ripe figs cost the bat its life. The bat lay there for over a month, decomposing slowly. No BESCOM worker bothered to remove it. In September on my visit to Mysore, I was startled to see around 4 electrocuted bats on our way.

I later found out from Dr M B Krishna that it’s a legal requirement to  sleeve electric wires that pass near a tree. I filed a complaint to BESCOM through their online service on October 14, asking to sleeve the electric wire. BESCOM employees were quick in responding. On October 19 a BESCOM employee called asking about the problem and sent two elderly workers later that day. The workers were expecting the problem to be the power supply at my house and when I said it was about sleeving electric wires, they were annoyed and scolded me for complaining about such insignificant problems. They said it was not possible to sleeve electric wires and moreover it was not important to help the birds for many of them die every day in the power stations. They dubbed me as ignorant and left.

However,  I come across many sleeved electric wires in Malleshwaram every day. Usually, electric wires running very close to a house are sleeved. If we believe human life has value and has to be protected then why not have the same attitude towards bats and othercreatures?

Fruit eating bats do not use echo method and rely only on their vision. So it’s obviously not very easy for them to clearly see power lines and they sometimes make miscalculations while flying for which they can’t be blamed. It’s we who can do something about this and prevent further danger to the life of these animals which are keystone species and maintain a balance in the ecosystem. Many people, like the  BESCOM workers, are ignorant and fail to do their duty. It’s important to remind them of their duty in preventing  future deaths amongst already threatened species.



  1. bhuvana subramanian says:

    Very nice scientific and very specific writeup deepa.true an sad that people and most authorities are so blind folded and so much mechanical in their approach.we needbpeople like you who can keep poking reminding and guiding to take them to aost right path.keep your good work onnn

  2. Deepa Mohan says:

    Thank you, Bhuvana, will pass on your words to Anvitha.

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