So-called bat nests or bat cocoons sold online nowadays are a popular method to defraud unsuspecting victims seeking alternative treatment. Unbeknownst to many, bats do not have cocoons or nests, an academic who shed light on the fraud says.
Professor İrfan Albayrak, a biologist at central Turkey's Kırıkkale University, says fraudsters plant cocoon-like objects in caves beforehand and invite potential victims to see for themselves and eventually trick them to buy the cocoons. "We found out that these are being sold at prices between TL 100,000 [$16,305] and TL 500,000" Albayrak told Anadolu Agency. He said that the fraud also poses a danger to caves as people, in search of "bat cure" can easily destroy the ecological system in caves.
Fraudsters make their victims believe that the cocoons contain a liquid used by the pharmaceutical industry and it can help extend people's lifespan. Video-sharing websites are awash with videos purportedly showing benefits of the liquid. Albayrak says the fraud originated in Iran and soon spread to other countries in the region, from Azerbaijan to Iraq.
"Bats are mammals who feed on insects. They don't build nests or cocoons but people do not know this and search caves for nests and even kills bats," the biologist said, adding that it was forbidden to explore caves without a permit and authorities should take more measures to prevent it. The professor said that bats are important parts of the ecosystem as they eat harmful insects, helping people use less pesticide in agriculture. "Turkey is home to 39 bat species. They should be protected," said Albayrak.