Alona Prylutska is a Ukrainian conservationist dedicated to the rehabilitation of microbats in an urban environment. She rescues bats trapped in buildings, helps bust bat-myths and works towards creating safe-spaces for bats in the cities.
Alona has been fascinated with bats since her first year at university. Due to urbanisation and climate change, some bat species have started to use buildings as their home. However, this makes them at risk for being trapped or disturbed, or even killed in case of renovation or isolation work. Additionally, there is a deep-rooted fear of bats in Ukraine, working against their conservation. Alona started her conservation path by saving bats found in the city or trapped in buildings, and nursed them back to health in her own home. During the winter, bats were kept in her refrigerator since bats need cold to hibernate. Alona founded the Ukrainian Bat Rehabilitation Center, the only one in the country which also serves as the biggest facility for bat research in Eastern Europe. They now take in bats from all over Ukraine and have saved more than 21,000 bats of 13 species in total.
With her team, Alona organised an advocacy campaign to explain to people how they can coexist with bats. They have given many lectures and interviews, and published a great number of materials. Annually, they organise the famous Bat Release Fest where they let the public help release hundreds of rescued bats back into the wild, further improving the relationship between bats and people.
Despite the dire circumstances in Ukraine, Alona and her team have persevered and continued their important bat conservation work. They have rescued many migrating bats from abandoned buildings and organise outreach activities.
Vision and Approach
Alona believes that changing people’s attitudes towards bats is key to their long-term survival. A combination of rehabilitation, widespread education, and bat-friendly city planning will help protect bat populations and create a safe bat habitat in an urban environment.
Impact of the Future For Nature Award
With the FFN Award prize money Alona will:
- Launch branches of the Bat Rehabilitation Center in the five biggest Ukrainian cities.
- Set up a “shared house” project targeting building companies to prevent house-dwelling bat mortality or disturbance during renovations, and create and distribute concrete bat boxes as alternative roosts for bats.
- Develop a network of qualified bat experts in Ukraine who are trained to rehabilitate bats in distress and launch educational work and local campaigns.
"That is the second time we as an ISC consider the proposal on bats protection from Alona Prulitska. She has been doing a great job on bats protection, research, and public education. Alona and her team save 21 thousand of bats of thirteen species. That is a tremendous result. She runs a rehabilitation center, where bats are kept and taken care of to be released back to nature. Bats are supposed to be bringing a stroke of bad luck by superstitious people, and these beliefs are quite strong in Eastern Europe and Ukraine. Thus, educating people, through lecturing, Bat Festival and distributing educational materials, and promoting the idea of a “shared home”, helped to bring tolerance and overcome superstitions and stop people from killing bats out of fear. In the past year since Russia started the war and invaded Ukraine, Alona stayed in the country to continue her work in saving bats in very hard and dangerous conditions."Masha Vorontsova, member of the International Selection Committee