VILLAGERS of Nakanacagi in Macuata are strictly monitoring logging practices in their forests in a move to protect the globally renowned bekabeka caves for the native but very threatened Fijian free-tailed bats (Chaerephon bregullae).
Village headman Semi Luvuiwai said upgrade works recently carried out by diggers on the logging access roads which ran on top of the cave was causing the cave structure to crumble and fall, threatening the bats inside the caves.
"We will see to it that the work of diggers and logging trucks carrying logs down from the mountains is monitored in order to ensure that the cave structure does not crumble," he said.
"The bats have become a symbol of Nakanacagi to the globe and we are trying our best to preserve the caves under pressure of development.
"Villagers are aware of the special connection of the village to the bats and it has been practised within the village that we will not harvest them for consumption during their birthing period from November to June."
NFMV officer Kelera Macedru said the bats played a significant role in distribution of plant seeds and fruit trees.