New series of short films explores bats, conservation, and culture
By Kristen Pope
Late at night in Nuevo León, México, BCI staff and partners joined filmmakers from Horizonline Pictures and Fin and Fur Films, and waited patiently, cameras at the ready. Soon, they watched as an Endangered Mexican long-nosed bat (Leptonycteris nivalis) flew to an agave flower and began to feed on its nectar as the team recorded what is BCI’s first high-quality footage of this Endangered species drinking agave nectar. This footage is part of a new series of videos highlighting BCI’s Agave Restoration Initiative.
For Agave Restoration Program Manager Dr. Kristen Lear, gathering the Mexican long-nosed bat footage was one of the most exciting parts of the multi-year process. “Being part of that was pretty special,” Dr. Lear says.
The four videos show the interconnectedness of nectar-feeding bats and agave, featuring segments like the more than 700-mile migration of pregnant nectar bats and the creation of bacanora, a culturally important agave-based liquor produced in Sonora, México. The films showcase incredible bat footage and gorgeous scenery from the Arizona and Sonoran Sky Island region, the Chihuahuan Desert, and the Sierra Madre Oriental mountains while demonstrating the interconnectedness of bats, conservation, and culture.
To produce the films, BCI, its partners, and Horizonline Pictures traveled to locations in Tucson and Patagonia, Arizona, as well as Nuevo León, Coahuila, and Sonora, México in 2022. Using infrared cameras, they captured bats feeding on agave and roosting in a cave. They also interviewed local partners and community members, and filmed an agave planting event with the Tucson Audubon Society. The videos are intended to bring greater awareness to bats, their importance, threats they are facing, and how vital bats are in this region from both a conservation and cultural perspective.
“Agaves are beautiful plants, and bats are awesome animals, and the relationship they have between themselves and people, culture, and economics is a beautiful story,” Dr. Lear says. “We’re excited to see it come to life on video.”