ARPHA Preprints, doi: 10.3897/arphapreprints.e83547
Rediscovery of the critically endangered Hill's horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus hilli) and other new records of bat species in Rwanda
expand article infoJon Flanders§|, Winifred F Frick|, Julius Nziza#, Olivier Nsengimana¤, Prince Kaleme«, Marie Claire Dusabe¤, Innocent Ndikubwimana», Innocent Twizeyimana¤, Sospeter Kibiwot˄, Pierre Ntihemuka˅, Tina L Cheng|, Richard Muvunyi¦, Paul Webalaˀ
‡ American Museum of Natural History, New York, United States of America§ Tulane University, New Orleans, United States of America| Bat Conservation International, Austin, United States of America¶ University of California, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, United States of America# Gorilla Doctors, Kigali, Rwanda¤ Rwanda Wildlife Conservation Association, Kigali, Rwanda« Centre de Recherches en Sciences Naturelles (CRSN), Lwiro, Democratic Republic of the Congo» Fauna and Flora International, Monrovia, Liberia˄ University of Eldoret, Eldoret, Kenya˅ Nyungwe National Park, Kitabi, Rwanda¦ Rwanda Development Board, Kigali, Rwandaˀ Maasai Mara University, Narok, Kenya
Open Access

For forty years, there has been growing uncertainty about whether Hill's horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus hilli) still persists in Nyungwe National Park, Rwanda. Only known from one small area within the National Park, R. hilli is listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) based on its extremely small geographic range and presumed low number of mature individuals. Here, we present and describe bat species occurrence data contributed to the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) that we collected as part of a long-term collaborative project to rediscover this lost species. This data paper describes the conservation relevance, survey methods, and findings resulting from cave roost surveys, capture surveys, and acoustic sampling of bat echolocation activity in Nyungwe National Park and surrounding areas in southwestern Rwanda from 2013-2020.

We report the discovery of an extant population of Hill's horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus hilli) in Nyungwe National Park, Rwanda, 40 years since the last reported observation of the species in 1981. We also report the first record of Lander's horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus landeri) in Nyungwe National Park, and the first record of the Damara woolly bat (Kerivoula argentata) in Rwanda. The dataset contributed to GBIF described in this paper includes 278 occurrence records from 10 bat species of 5 families detected at 71 locations in or near Nyungwe National Park, Rwanda. We include a description of the morphological descriptions of R. hilli and present the first acoustic echolocation signatures and phylogenetic information for this species.

Afromontane rainforest, Albertine Rift, Nyungwe National Park, Rwanda