17 | ENE | 2019

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Bats – Taken from Twitter account @SEMARNAT_mx

A sanctuary for bats

Mexico City
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Mexico has, at least, 138 different bat species and their preservation has become a priority

Mexico has, at least, 138 different kinds of bats, out of which 38 are considered to be at risk according to Mexican Standard NOM 059. Contrary to popular belief, bats bring many benefits to their environment – such as controlling insect populations – which is why the National Commission of Protected Areas (CONANP) is seeking to create a sanctuary for them.

The National Commissioner of Protected Natural Areas, Alejandro del Mazo Maza, recognized the importance of the services bats provide to ecosystems the nations, and due to the importance of the preservation of this species, he has claimed their protection will be a priority.

The CONAP, together with experts of the Institute of Ecology of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), and civil associations such as Biocencia A.C. and Pronatura A.C., have identified 7 caves throughout the country whose protection and preservation are vital to ensure the survival of bats.

“Our country has the 5th place in Chiroptera biodiversity. Unbelievably, one out of four mammal species in the country is a bat.”

One of this places is Cueva de la Boca (Cave of the Mouth), located in Nuevo León, 36 km south of Monterrey. During the summer, it houses a colony of 5 million Tadarida brasiliensis bats, which weigh approximately 15g and are 9 cm long. This animal is vital for plague control, as it is estimated 1 million of these bats is capable of feeding on 1 tonne of insects per night.

Cueva de la Boca once housed the largest bat colony of this species in Mexico, yet vandalism and lack of protection measures caused its numbers to dwindle.

In the 90's, Bat Conservation International (BCI) and the Bat Conservation Program of Mexico (PCMM) set to the task of changing people's perception through environmental education.

Presently, CONANP, the local government, UNAM researchers, and Pronatura Noreste A.C. are working to ensure the preservation of this cave.

Out of the 1300 species of bats worldwide, only 3 feed on blood. Lack of information has caused them to be misunderstood and unappreciated, according to Rodrigo Medellín, expert bat researcher at the UNAM's Institute of Ecology.

“According to the CONABIO, Mexico has close to 140 species of bats classified in 8 families, out of which 38 species are in an endangered species category“


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