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Greater Horseshoe Bat

Rhinolophus ferrumequinum (Schreber 1774) Greater Horseshoe Bat
Hebrew name: פרסף גדול, parsaf gadol

Order: Chiroptera
Family: Rhinolophidae

Global Threat: NT – Near Threatened
Regional Threat: EN (A4a,C) – Endangered

Distribution area: In the Mediterranean region, but its population is decreasing in the Carmel and the Judean Mountains. In the Golan and the Galilee the populations are small but stable.

Historic distribution: According to Dor (1940-1947), the species was found in tens and even hundreds, in caves throughout the Mediterranean region in the country (in Makin 1977). In the 1950s the greater horseshoe bat was still common in the Judean Mountains. In the 1970s (Makin 1977) there were still dozens in isolated caves throughout the Carmel, although in other caves there were only a few individuals.

Typical Habitat: Deep, damp caves and also shallow, dry caves. This species is very sensitive to human disturbance in wintering and breeding caves. Foraging is usually in humid maqui environments (Moskin 1993).

Threat and Disturbance Factors:
1. Insecticide use in agricultural areas.
2. Human visitors to roosting, breeding and wintering caves.

Factors that led to population reduction in the past:
1. In the 1940s and 1950s: bat collection by scientists.
2. From the 1960s to the mid-80s: poisoning by activity to eliminate fruit bats in shared caves.

Population Size: In the late 1990s the maximum number in known caves was estimated at 500: in the Golan and Hermon circa 150, in the Galilee ca. 200, in the Carmel ca. 100 and in the Judean Mountains and Lowlands about 50 individuals.
This is a minimalist estimate since there are isolated individuals in many caves.

Fluctuations in Population Size: The population is constantly decreasing and becoming sparse: in the 1940s hundreds of greater horseshoe bats were reported from a number of caves in the Carmel area (Ezba Cave, Tiv’on). In the 1970s only a few individuals were found and in the 1990s no bats of this species were found in these caves.

Isolation between Subpopulations: Unknown.

Necessary Steps for Species Preservation:
1. Reducing insecticide use.
2. Protecting roosting and wintering caves.
3. Protecting (by closing off with bars) caves essential to the survival of this species.