Cambodian “bat man” bolsters the fight against dengue fever

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Rising temperatures due to climate change allow mosquitoes carrying deadly malaria and dengue fever to live in new parts of the world that were previously uninhabitable, placing over half the world’s population at risk. Creating artificial roosts for bats to “farm” their guano can improve soil quality, providing a natural fertilizer while reducing insect numbers, and possibly disease burdens. Meet Heng Kim Seng, Cambodia’s bat man. In a few years, he went from rice to riches all because of bats. Under the Khmer Rouge, he hauled human waste to make the rice grow, and now he sells bat feces or “guano” as a natural fertilizer, a thriving business that could even save lives. It all started one night, back in his home village in eastern Pursat province, where he returned after the regime fell. At dusk, Seng watched bats by the thousands streaming out of palm trees and struck upon an idea. “I thought, bats are good animals … their feces make good fertilizer for all types of plants,” the grandfather recalled. “So, I came up with the idea to build artificial roosts by putting palm leaves at the top of the palm trees,” he explained. Seng started “farming” […]

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