The Echo

Agave Abroad

Published on June 26, 2019
Written by Corey Anklam

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Image: Winifred Frick / Bat Conservation International.

Last night, during a stroll through my 70-degree breezy neighborhood, I stumbled upon a honeysuckle bush. While not mine, I proactively asserted some neighborly love, plucked one off, and inhaled a mosquito-sized dolloped waft of honey. Delicious. A sweet natural treat so close to home, why wouldn’t I re-sign my lease? Well, we think bats might think like me (or me like them – jury is still out), and if we can plant and restore some naturally sweet treats in their neighborhood they might just stick around and even tell their friends about it.

If you saw our video for Endangered Species Day on Instagram or YouTube, you'll know by now that the Lesser Long-nosed bat (Leptonycteris yerbabuenae) has been recently taken off the endangered species list. We are ecstatic about it, but there is still a lot of work to do for other bat species. One of which, also featured in our video, is the Mexican Long-nosed bat (Leptonycteris nivalis). While they don’t feed on honeysuckles, they do feed on and help pollinate agave. So, we are working closely with an international team to restore the bat population and in doing so we plan to put that long nose to good use by restoring agave populations in essential Long-nosed bat foraging areas. Last month, members from our team traveled to Monterrey, Mexico to attend an Agave Restoration meeting held by Dr. Emma Gomez Ruiz, an expert on the Mexican Long-nosed bat from the University of Nuevo Leon, and many other collaborators to determine how and where to plant agave for this endangered species.

At the meeting we did some collaborative mapping to determine key essential areas for agave restoration. The goal is to plant and restore agave near maternity roosts of the Mexican Long-nosed bat so that pregnant moms and young bats have easy access to the food source. The community conservation organization, Species, Society and Habitat (ESHAC) did some preliminary computer mapping to help us determine some priority restoration zones within the average foraging distance from three important maternity roosts: El Infierno, Rosillo, and La Mojonera Caves. We look forward to kicking off these projects with our collaborators and restoring these tasty snacks for our bat neighbors. We’ll keep you posted on these efforts and determine if a sweet tooth is enough to keep these bats coming back. You can always read more about our Agave Restoration Initiative on our website.

Corey Anklam is a writer and video producer based in Washington D.C. and works as the marketing and communications producer for Bat Conservation International. Her background is in museum media covering a wide array of topics, but she loves covering conservation science especially for creatures as fascinating as bats.