Conservation efforts aimed at bats, arguably one of the most misunderstood mammals in the world, are being stepped by federal environment authorities with plans to create sanctuaries to protect them.
The Natural Protected Areas Commission (Conanp) announced it has already identified seven cave systems whose protection will be a much-needed step toward the conservation and recovery of bat colonies throughout Mexico.
One of those caves, Cueva de la Boca in the Nuevo León municipality of Santiago, could become the first bat sanctuary in Mexico. Specialists have learned that it is used by some 5 million specimens of the Mexican free-tailed bat as breeding grounds every summer.
Conanp highlighted the importance of such species for the environmental stability of the broader region around the Cueva de la Boca, explaining that just 1 million bats can consume one tonne of insects in one night.
In turn, Mexican free-tailed bats are also an important food source for other animal species, such as peregrine falcons.
Bats help keep insect populations in check, especially those considered agricultural pests by humans. Other bats consume fruits, aiding in conservation by spreading seeds.
Some bats prefer to feed on the nectar of flowers, contributing to the pollination of plant species that are important for humans, including tequila and mezcal-producing agaves.
Conanp reported that is is collaborating with Santiago municipal authorities, specialists from the National Autonomous University of México (UNAM) and representatives from the non-governmental organization Pronatura in guaranteeing the conservation of the Cueva de la Boca cave system.
There are 138 bat species catalogued in Mexico, representing slightly over 10% of the world population. Thirty-eight of those species are under some kind of threat.
A project was announced in December in Nuevo León’s capital, Monterrey, to build bat houses to encourage growth of the bat population.
A bat cave identified for protection.