Bats are the most misunderstood mammals in Nicaragua, yet they are essential for ecosystem health. This is because bats are pollinators and seed dispersers. They are also incredibly important to controlling insect pests in farming communities.
Nicaragua’s largest bat colony is found in the caves surrounding the crater of the Masaya Volcano, where there are more than 30,000 bats. In the dry forest region surrounding Masaya Volcano National Park, bats are feared by local farmers. So Paso Pacífico, supported by the Conservation Food & Health Foundation, launched a project providing members of the Ventarrón farming cooperative with training in bat and insect identification, and skills in acoustic monitoring. We also used radiotelemetry to identify the foraging areas for bats leaving the volcano.
In addition, farmers are collecting guano to see which insects the bats are eating in order to calculate the benefits that bats provide them in reducing the depredation of their pests. We are now working with the farmers to install artificial nest boxes in order to promote bats as a tool for insect pest control, as opposed to agrochemicals, which are harmful to the entire ecosystem.