Bat Conservation International’s vision for Latin America is to continue supporting the development of local capacity and partnership networks through the implementation of sustainable conservation initiatives that address the region’s highest bat conservation priorities. We will work collaboratively, utilizing the strong foundation for local bat conservation leadership that already exists in Latin America, to achieve lasting conservation outcomes that prevent extinctions, identify and protect Significant Bat Areas, and develop proactive solutions to serious threats.
Latin America, including the Caribbean, is home to at least 345 of the world’s 1,300+ species of bats. Unfortunately, 15 of these species are currently listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as either Endangered or Critically Endangered, and another 25 are considered Vulnerable.
Latin America Bat Species Richness
BCI has more than 20 years of experience working collaboratively to combat the many threats facing bats in Latin America. Yet deforestation, roost disturbance, and reckless eradication efforts by misinformed decision-makers continue to place Latin American bats in extreme peril despite the invaluable ecosystem services they provide. Bats eat enormous amounts of harmful insects, reducing crop damage and limiting pesticide use. By dispersing seeds, bats play a key role in rainforest recovery after slash-and-burn destruction. And they are nighttime pollinators with symbiotic relationships with hundreds of native plants that would otherwise fail to reproduce.
Video of a Pallas’s long-tongued bat (Glossophaga soricina) pollinating a columnar cactus. © Olvin W. Oyuela/PCMH
Increasingly, the bats of Latin America are facing new threats posed by wind energy development and agricultural land conversion for products like palm oil. Moreover, ever-encroaching human development continues to reduce the natural buffers between bats and humans that have proven mutually beneficial for hundreds of years.
BCI works through diverse partnerships and collaborations – including close cooperation with the Latin American Bat Conservation Network (RELCOM) – to conserve bat species and their habitats throughout the region. Working together, BCI and RELCOM are promoting research, conservation, and education, while building local and regional capacity to ensure long-term conservation impacts.
We are helping individuals and organizations overcome the extraordinary challenges that result from isolation and limitations in training and resources. We conduct joint training workshops, deploy rapid-response teams, sponsor student research, implement critical protection and monitoring projects, and provide support to Latin America’s growing network of bat conservation groups.
In August 2013, BCI held an innovative study design workshop for university students from across Latin America. The workshop was held at the Tirimbina Biological Reserve in Costa Rica, and it attracted 20 students from 12 Latin American countries whose research interests center on bat conservation.