White-Nose Syndrome
Surveillance in Texas

Worldwide

Bat Conservation International (BCI) envisions a global community working together to conserve bats at a global scale, preventing further extinctions, identifying and protecting the world’s Significant Bat Areas, developing proactive solutions to serious threats, and ultimately ensuring lasting survival of the world’s 1300+ species of bats. To that end, we must prioritize where and how we work to advance collaborative conservation to ensure we achieve our desired and lasting conservation impact.

Global Bat Species Richness

Africa

Africa is home to more than 21% of the world’s species of bats (269+ species).

Learn more about BCI's collaborative work to conserve Africa’s bats.


Asia

Asia is home to more than 34% of the world’s species of bats (448+ species).

Learn more about BCI's collaborative work to conserve Asia’s bats.



Oceania

Oceania is home to more than 13% of the world’s species of bats (176+ species).

Learn more about BCI's collaborative work to conserve Oceania’s bats.



Latin America

Latin America is home to more than 26% of the world’s species of bats (345+ species).

Learn more about BCI's collaborative work to conserve Latin America’s bats.



USA-Canada

USA-Canada is home to more than 3% of the world’s species of bats (47 species).

Learn more about BCI's collaborative work to conserve USA-Canada’s bats.


Globally, bats are facing wide-ranging threats that jeopardize their very existence in some cases. Foremost among this myriad of global threats is habitat degradation and loss from a variety of human activities. Deforestation for timber production, conversion to agricultural lands, and urbanization destroys critical roosts and important feeding areas. Cave and underground mine disturbance and destruction from urbanization, mining, and tourism, as well as the direct persecution of bats, has also killed millions of bats globally. Other serious threats include indiscriminant killing based on superstitions or fears of disease, uncontrolled hunting of bats for food and folk medicine, wind turbine-caused mortality, and improper mining of bat guano for fertilizer. Climate change threatens to disrupt biological life cycles of the plants and insects on which bats depend and degrade the suitability of roost sites and availability of water.

Invasive non-native species also pose severe threats to many species of bats. Island-based bats, by virtue of their isolated evolution, limited geographic range, and small population size, are particularly vulnerable to introduced species such as the Brown Tree Snake (Boiga irregularis), Yellow Crazy Ants (Anoplolepis gracilipes), or the feral Pigs (Sus scrofa) and Goats (Capra hircus) that can severely degrade forest habitats.

Bats
Bats in a New York cave display the fungus-covered snouts of White-nose Syndrome.

In 2006, the world had a wakeup call to emerging threats that have severe consequences to the conservation of bats. It is widely believed that as many as 25 of the 47 US and Canadian bat species may be vulnerable when hibernating to the introduced fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans, the cause of White-nose Syndrome, which by some estimates has killed more than 5.7 million bats since 2006 in central and eastern North America.






USA-Canada

BCI has a long history of conservation in the US and Canada. We continue our successful programs which target protecting bat habitats, reducing threats to bat populations and educating the public.  Our priorities include preventing extinctions, investing in practical, scientifically proven solutions to the imminent threats of white-nose syndrome (WNS) and wind turbine collisions, identifying and protecting important bat habitats, advocating for appropriate legal protections for bats, and building a bat conservation ethic through education and outreach.

The United States and Canada are home to 3% of the world’s bat species.  While diversity is not as high here as in other regions, the 47 species found in the U.S. and Canada include one species listed as Critically Endangered and two as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. At least 5 other species are in sharp decline due to WNS. Other potentially severe threats to bats include, the loss of suitable cave, mine and mature tree roosts; shrinking water resources in the west; and a rapid expansion of wind power, which is estimated to kill more than 200,000 bats annually.

USA-Canada Bat Species Richness

We use a variety of approaches to conserve bats within this region, where we are based.  In addition to conducting research and conservation activities using our own staff throughout the US and Canada, we rely heavily on collaboration with partner organizations to achieve conservation on a larger scale. Our WNS and wind energy collaborations have invested heavily in research to identify science-based solutions to some of the most critical threats to bats in this region. Armed with the results from years of research, we vigorously pursue implementation of our most promising tools to save bats from these threats.  We continue to deploy field teams to assist partners with inventory and management of bat habitats both above and below ground, including caves, mines, forest habitats, and water resources.

BCI collaborates with public agencies and private landowners to provide lasting conservation at scale for this regions bats and their habitats. We engage at all levels to build capacity for others to advance bat conservation and provide resources and tools where we can to assist them in their efforts.

How You Can Help

Be a champion for bats! Whatever you do, wherever you go, help others understand the value of bats and how important it is to protect them.

Learn more about bats and use what you know to make decisions that advance bat conservation. There are a lot of ways to make a difference for bats through your choices as a consumer, by influencing your local or regional government or by volunteering.

Contribute to bat conservation, through your membership at BCI, through our wish list, or through a financial gift.

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Asia

Bat Conservation International envisions working across Asia to address the region’s highest bat conservation priorities, like preventing extinctions, and with a strong focus on supporting the development of local capacity and partnership networks to ensure our efforts are sustainable. We will work collaboratively to achieve lasting conservation outcomes that protect Significant Bat Areas, build greater awareness with the public and with policymakers about the value and vulnerability of Asia’s bats, and develop proactive solutions to address the region’s many serious threats.

Asia is a vast region, boasting an amazing diversity of bat species and habitat. The region is home to at least 448 of the world’s 1,300+ species of bats. These range from the world’s smallest bat, called the bumblebee bat (Craseonycteris thonglongyai), to the largest bat on the planet (by weight), the golden-crowned flying fox (Acerodon jubatus).  Within Asia, Indonesia has a current tally of 219 distinct bat species, making it the country with the greatest number of species in the world. Unfortunately, 25 of Asia's bat species are currently listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as either Endangered or Critically Endangered, and another 36 are considered Vulnerable.

Asia Bat Species Richness

Asia

BCI has been engaged in various Asian countries since our founding in 1982, working collaboratively to combat the many threats facing bats in the region. Deforestation and the loss of associated roosting and foraging habitat is a major threat to Asian bats, as some countries have lost more than 80% of their primary forest cover due to over-exploitation of timber and land conversion for agriculture. Destruction and disturbance of cave roosts is another major problem, with guano mining, swiftlet nest collection, irresponsible ecotourism, and bushmeat hunting motivating people to enter caves and damage prime subterranean habitat. The same can be true for large, tree-roosting bats, many of which have been over-hunted for local consumption or for shipment to other countries where bat meat is considered a rare delicacy. Such threats are putting at risk the survival of countless species and with them their invaluable ecosystem services – like seed dispersal – which are vital for the promoting reforestation and healthy ecosystems. Thankfully, the hunting and export of bats is illegal in many Asian countries, but enforcement and local buy-in are not always strong enough to give bats a chance to recover their diminished populations.

Unregulated guano harvesting
Crews load tons of guano into sacks like these for sale as a primary material in fertilizers. Unregulated
guano harvesting from caves can have extremely negative impacts on roost sites, even causing entire bat colonies to
abandon caves where they may have roosted for hundreds of years. BCI and our partners have been testing a new
set of "sustainable" guano mining guidelines for adoption by the IUCN and implementation at sites around the globe.

BCI works closely with a diverse set of partners and networks in Asia to conserve the most threatened bat species and habitats. One such partner is the Southeast Asian Bat Conservation Research Unit SEABCRU, which was founded in 2007 to help build regional capacity and coordinate high-priority research and conservation programming for the bats of the ten ASEAN member states.

BCI also supports the educational training and outreach work of the Chiroptera Conservation and Information Network of South Asia (CCINSA), which is based in India. Apart from these regional networks, BCI is fortunate to have many local NGOs and dedicated individuals to work alongside as we endeavor to promoting research, conservation, and education, while building local and regional capacity to ensure long-term conservation impacts in Asia.

crowd watching bat conservation
Cave conservation efforts can draw lots of attention from the general public. This crowd in the Philippines
gathered to watch graduate student, Kendra Phelps, and her team collect data. Although distracting,
these moments create perfect opportunities to provide much-needed education to local populations about the
value and vulnerability of their bat
© Kendra Phelps
 





Africa

Bat Conservation International envisions a vibrant, diverse and expanding community advancing bat conservation across Africa and on the surrounding islands. We will work collaboratively to achieve lasting conservation that prevents extinctions, identifies and protects the world’s Significant Bat Areas, and develops proactive solutions to serious threats.

In Africa, the Egyptian Tomb Bat (Taphozous perforatus) roosts in caves and similar subterranean-type habitats
across North Africa and the northern part of Sub-Saharan Africa. It is identified by the IUCN as a
species of Least Concern, although roost disturbance likely threatens some colonies.
Photo courtesy of Paul Webala.

Africa and its neighboring islands are home to more than 269 (>21%) of the world’s bat species. According to the IUCN, the Democratic Republic of the Congo currently has the most species documented with at least 119 species – new species continue to be described and known species are regularly being documented in new areas as there is a growing movement on bat research and conservation.

Africa Bat Species Richness

Africa bat richness map

The diverse bat communities of Africa provide a broad array of ecosystem services that directly and indirectly benefit human communities. The migration routes of the straw-colored fruit bat (Eidolon helvum) across much of Sub-Saharan Africa are critical to the pollination and seed dispersal of native trees to help sustain Africa’s threatened forests. Insect-eating bats, like the molosids (free-tailed bats) in Swaziland, have been documented to provide important pest control services for sugarcane farms.

Straw-colored fruit bats
Straw-colored fruit bats migrate across much of Sub-Saharan Africa and are essential pollinators and
seed dispersers of many native forest trees.
Photos courtesy of Frank Willems.

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species classifies 45 African bats as Near-Threatened, Vulnerable, Endangered or Critically Endangered. Bats in Africa face challenges not unlike those elsewhere -- loss of roosting and foraging habitat from the conversion of natural lands by logging, agriculture, mining and major infrastructure projects, and loss of open water in the Sahel and other arid and semi-arid regions experiencing encroaching desertification due to overgrazing and climate change. The hunting of bats for bushmeat is another widespread threat to bats in Africa. Bats also roost in buildings throughout much of Africa, which unfortunately creates conflict and, more often than not, instills a negative public sentiment toward bats.

Bat Conservation International will work with and through collaborative partnerships to achieve lasting bat conservation across Africa. Given the limited information on Africa’s bats, we anticipate our initiatives will include targeted research to answer critical questions to inform our conservation, as well as inventories of the bat communities, assessments of habitats, and community awareness campaigns in priority regions. We will collaborate to build upon local leadership and capacity, while also proactively working to broaden and strengthen it.

Bat Conservation Africa, a network launched in February 2013, is one of our primary partners and we will continue to work with them on targeted initiatives. We will encourage other non-governmental organizations, universities, local, regional and national governments, as well as corporate organizations to engage in effective collaborative partnerships in regions of high conservation value for bats.

Africa collaborative partnerships
 
 




Latin America

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.

Tirimbina Biological Reserve bat workshop
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.

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

Latin America bat species richness map

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

Bellingen Flyout

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.







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