Volume 39
Issue 2

By Mike Daulton

This past June marked the 20th anniversary of Pollinator Week, an international celebration of the valuable ecosystem services provided by bees, birds, butterflies, beetles, and, most importantly, bats. It also comes as COVID-19 impacts the lives of people worldwide. Therefore, the anniversary serves as more than just a celebration—it also is a powerful reminder of the vital role that bats serve for the global community and the critical need for bat conservation.

 While the exact chain of transmission that resulted in COVID-19 may never be established, one of the lessons of the pandemic is that the destruction of natural habitats makes it more likely for viruses to spill over into humans. By protecting wildlife and wildlife habitat, we can reduce inappropriate contact with wild animals and create a safer world for all.

 Bat conservation also has significant global importance when it comes to food supplies and economies; both of which are strained as a result of the pandemic. Nectar-feeding bats, for instance, serve as primary pollinators for keystone desert plants in Mexico and the southwestern United States. These bats are critical due to their importance to agriculture, biodiversity conservation, and ecosystem function in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. Our international conservation efforts include restoring agave forage and protecting the habitats of pollinating bats in these parts of North America. Just recently, the BAND Foundation gifted BCI with a three-year program of support for our agave restoration initiative. With this new support in place, we are poised to significantly advance protection for one of the world’s most endangered mammals, the Mexican long-nosed bat.

 Bats may also hold the key to the next breakthrough vaccine or treatment as they have a unique ability to tolerate viruses. While bats cannot spread COVID-19 to people, research into bats could help develop vaccines or treatments for future viruses found in human populations.

 As you can see, bat conservation has never been more vital. To ensure the survival of these extraordinary mammals, we’re embarking on our most ambitious strategic plan to date and will soon be unveiling new branding to inspire and engage more supporters worldwide. With your support, we will:

• Implement endangered species interventions

• Protect and restore landscapes

• Conduct high-priority research and develop scalable solutions

• Inspire through experience

Working together, we will redefine what is possible in global conservation. The future needs all of us—now more than ever. 

Mike Daulton

BCI Executive Director