"Ten Stories of Hope: The Endangered Species Act at 50" highlights conservation strategies saving imperiled wildlife.

12.06.23
Photo by Dr. Melqui Gamba-Rios

Miami (December 6, 2023) – The ongoing work of Bat Conservation International and Zoo Miami to save the Florida bonneted bat (Eumops floridanus) from extinction has been recognized by the Endangered Species Coalition (ESC) as one of the most inspiring examples of conservation in 2023. Released today by the ESC, Ten Stories of Hope: The Endangered Species Act at 50 is a new report that highlights ten case studies of conservationists using different strategies to protect and recover imperiled fish, birds, plants, and mammals in the U.S.  

This recognition comes at a pivotal moment for the Florida bonneted bat, as the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners will soon vote on whether to allow the proposed Miami Wilds theme park development to move forward on environmentally sensitive land at Zoo Miami. The land in question is critical foraging habitat for the endangered Florida bonneted bat and the proposed development would imperil the rarest and most endangered bat in the United States.

“We’re thrilled to be featured in this new report by the Endangered Species Coalition for our work with Zoo Miami to save the Florida bonneted bat and are inspired by the other organizations working across the country to protect biodiversity and at-risk wildlife,” said Mylea Bayless, chief of strategic partnerships at Bat Conservation International. “The Florida bonneted bat is poised to become a national success story and a shining example of urban species conservation. We won’t let a controversial water park compromise the survival of this species.”

The Florida bonneted bat weighs in at under two ounces, but with a 20-inch wingspan, these bats are one of Florida’s largest – as well as one of the rarest bat species in the world with fewer than 3,000 remaining. Like many endangered species, they’ve been impacted by development and climate change, pushing BCI and Zoo Miami to come up with a creative solution to their housing shortage. To protect Florida bonneted bats in Miami-Dade County, BCI and Zoo Miami teamed up to form The Miami Bat Lab in 2019. Working together with partners, they have installed over 20 specially designed artificial roosts for the bats in the area. 

“Florida bonneted bats quickly adopted these artificial roosts, further inspiring us to keep exploring this strategy to provide long-term protection for the species,” says Dr. Melqui Gamba-Rios, regional director of Latin America & Caribbean initiatives at BCI and the leader of BCI’s efforts to save the species. “Within the first three weeks after the first box was built, it was occupied, and we knew we were onto something transformational.”

Four years into the project, the custom-made boxes shelter and protect at least 170 Florida bonneted bats across Miami Dade County, which is now the largest population across their entire range. Having already stabilized the population decline of this species, when combined with long-term protection of foraging habitats, this intervention shows promise to save this bat from extinction.

As the Endangered Species Act turns 50 years old this year, the reportdelivers stories of people, agencies, and organizations who are working to recover species the Act protects — like the Florida bonneted bat. The report showcases conservation methods that save species, from seed-banking and outplanting, to protecting migration corridors and nesting sites; from removing dams to restoring habitat—and more.

“This report offers hope that we can restore habitats and safeguard imperiled animals and plants,” said Susan Holmes, Executive Director of the Endangered Species Coalition. “As demonstrated by the extraordinary efforts of dedicated field researchers, citizen scientists, and volunteers working to save species throughout the country, the Endangered Species Act works!” 

Endangered Species Coalition’s member groups nominated species for the report. A committee of distinguished scientists reviewed the nominations and chose the finalists. The full report can be viewed and downloaded here: https://www.endangered.org/ten-stories-of-hope. There is also a collection of images from the report. (Republished images need to be credited.) 

The Endangered Species Coalition produces a Top 10 report annually, focusing on a different theme each year. Previous years’ reports are also available on the Coalition’s website.

About Bat Conservation International:  

Founded in 1982, Bat Conservation International is a global conservation organization dedicated to ending bat extinctions. Around the world, bats are under unprecedented threat from widespread habitat destruction and other stresses. Without concerted international action, bat populations could continue to fall, driving species to extinction. For more information, visit batcon.org. 

Media Contact: Kathryn Slater  

Tel: 512.327.9721 Ext. 463  

Email: kslater@batcon.org