‘Batman’ on mission to save species

Top: Joe Tonga with one of his bat boxes. Above: Some microbats make a home in one of the boxes.
Top: Joe Tonga with one of his bat boxes. Above: Some microbats make a home in one of the boxes.

By day, Mr Tonga is an East Fremantle building maintenance and pest controller.

But his passion for the past decade has been to save the microbat species by building bat boxes.

Mr Tonga uses his carpentry skills to build boxes for bats, as well as possums, using environmental grants sourced by groups or local councils.

‘It’s my contribution to the environment,’ Mr Tonga said.

‘They are becoming rarer and normally require hollows that are being removed by development.

‘We put 30 boxes in Bibra Lake and are starting to see an increase there,’ Mr Tonga said.

He offers bat tours and night stalks all over the State, recently holding one in Belmont where night herons, frogs, and nocturnal spiders were also spotted.

In 2012, Mr Tonga installed five bat boxes at Adachi and Hardey parks in the City of Belmont, using a $1000 donation from the Rotary Club of Welshpool, to encourage the breeding of the white-striped freetail bat known to be in the Rivervale foreshore area.

Microbats eat insects, consuming about 1000 mosquitoes a night and some are a tiny 4cm, weighing just 5g. Most weigh about 30g and even 50 of the largest microbats can fill a bat box.