BEIRUT: The Mount Lebanon city of Aley Monday celebrated International Bat Night, a global initiative to spread awareness about the nocturnal animal’s importance in the ecological system, according to the National News Agency.
Animal Encounter, a local NGO created to enhance awareness about wildlife, hosted the event at its center.
Japanese Ambassador to Lebanon Seiichi Otsuka attended the celebration, which is now in its 18th year and is sponsored by Aley’s municipality, making Lebanon one of more than 30 countries around the world who mark the occasion.
“We are happy to participate in the International Bat Night,” Otsuka told the crowd. “I have been impressed by this center, which takes care of protecting wildlife, ever since I first visited it two years ago.”
“Lebanon is rich in terms of natural manifestations, but [the process of] protecting the wildlife is endangered by the human destruction of the natural environment,” he added.
The event also served to introduce some aspects of traditional Japanese culture to the Lebanese crowd, such as origami, the art of folding paper into complicated shapes, and dorayaki, a type of pancake.
“This very special occasion is held on the last weekend of every year’s August, and the aim is, par excellence, preserving wildlife,” said Diana Abou Said, the event organizer and the co-founder of Animal Encounter.
One should not underestimate the “importance of the bat in keeping ecological balance, especially in terms of eliminating bad insects,” she stressed, adding that some species also play a role in fruit pollination.
In addition to Aley’s Mayor and a group of environmental experts and NGOs representatives, many students and scouts groups also attended the event.
“We were not expecting such an audience,” said Mayor Wajih Mrad. “Environmental and cultural events usually suffer from weak attendance.
“This event takes place in one Arab country only, Lebanon, and in the city of Aley ... specifically.”