Researchers Bhargavi and Chelmala Srinivasulu have been called the Bat Woman and Bat Man of India, not only because they’re bat scientists at Osmania University in Hyderabad, but because their love for bats was instrumental to their own love story.
“I guess I wanted to impress him – instead of roses I’d given him a dead bat,” said Bhargavi. Chelmala returned the favor on their wedding day. Now, together, they’re on a mission to save India’s endangered bats.
The Srinivasulus set out to find a species that hadn’t been seen since the 1980s – the Kolar leaf-nosed bat. The expedition led them to a guano-emitting subterranean cave in an area with illegal granite mining. Despite being chased by miners after dark, Bhargavi and her team managed to collect specimen and rediscovered the Kolar leaf-nosed bat!
They’re elation was cut short knowing the bats were under threat from mining. After years of outreach to villagers and the government, the cave – the species’ only known home – was declared a conservation reserve.
But there’s more to do. “I feel like it’s just the beginning,” says Bhargavi. “Ninety-nine more species of bats to go – we need to protect all of them.”
(Editor’s note: Also read The Wire Science‘s article from 2017 on Bhargavi Srinivasulu and her work.)
Emily V. Driscoll is a science documentary producer in New York. She originally produced this video for Scientific American. It has been reproduced here with permission. www.emilydriscoll.com