Recent Masters graduate student
Sospeter is a small mammal biologist, specialized in order Chiroptera. He is currently working as a bat monitoring expert at Kipeto wind farm, Kenya. Sospeter was born in Nandi, a less famous part of western Kenya yet source of countries international athletes. He obtained a diploma in Tourism and Wildlife Management at Moi University, Kenya in 2011. During the time, he got curious as to why we use an array of different traps and poisons for rodents, including eliminating rodent pests. Therefore, Sospeter decided to research on the efficacy of live and snap traps for the capture of rodents. He furthered his career by enrolling a BSc in Wildlife Management at the University of Eldoret, Kenya. During his undergrad third year, he was introduced to bats (Mammalia: Chiroptera) in a mammalogy course. Instead of working with rodents and traps, Kibiwot became so passionate of this less studied, but diverse mammal group. Consequently, he investigated the influence of human activities on bat abundance and species richness on riparian parts of Kipkaren River and its Environs, Nandi county, Kenya, for his final year undergrad dissertation.
Currently, Sospeter is a Master of Science student in Wildlife Management at University of Eldoret (Kenya), and his thesis is investigating effects of forest degradation on bats at South and North Nandi Forests, Western Kenya. This is a first-ever ecological project on bats at the two tropical rainforests in Kenya and will reveal information on extant species, including potential cryptic species, and how they may be affected by ongoing human activities at the two forests. In the recent past, he has gained invaluable skills and experience working on bat projects with eminent bat biologists. Specifically, he worked in Kenya and Rwanda, including the “Bats of Kenya Project” with Dr Paul Webala, Rediscovery of Hill’s Horseshoe bat, Rhinolophus hilli, in Rwanda with Dr. Winifred Frick (Bat Conservation International, United States), and bat surveys on the eastern side of L. Turkana (Kenya) with Dr. Mar Carbeza (University of Helsinki). From these projects, Sospeter not only acquired critical skills of working and camping in remote locations but also in handling, acoustic techniques and identifying the diverse bat community of eastern Africa. Recently, he co-authored a paper, “Range Expansion of Bombali Virus in Mops condylurus Bats, Kenya. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 26(12): 3007-3010 (https://dx.doi.org/10.3201/eid2612.202925)”.
Importantly, Sospeter have participated in a myriad environmental and social impact assessments (ESIA) for wind, hydroelectric, power transmission line and solar energy projects in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Djibouti. During these projects, we not only investigate bat species at the highest risk at energy projects, especially wind turbines, but also recommend bat fatality mitigation measures. While wind turbines are a notorious hazard for birds, less well known is the danger they pose to bats in Africa. In Kenya, little is known about bat species that are vulnerable but anecdotal reports suggest that turbines kill more bats than birds, and the numbers of the dead may be substantial.
Sospeter believes in power of collaboration in promoting bat conservation not only in Kenya and African, but global wise. This motivation has pushed Sospeter to hold the idea high up and now he is working to develop the first call library for bats of Kenya with a diverse team of researchers.