Bats could have a value of over $27 billion USD per year in...
Bats could have a value of over $27 billion USD per year in...
Every night at Volcano Masaya National Park, over thirty thousand bats emerge from the Tzinaconostoc Cave or lava tube (Photo: Bruce Taubert). These "mustache bats" are voracious insect eaters and they forage in the agricultural areas surrounding the volcano every night. 

While the thought of so many bats may sound scary on Halloween, the benefits of their "environmental services" can be enormous. In fact, the pest control provided by bats in Latin America alone is valued at over $27 billion USD. Unfortunately, the benefits bats bring are largely invisible to the region’s farmers. People will sometimes kill bats out of fear, even though most tropical bats species eat insects, pollen, or fruit. 

Paso Pacífico is working to change attitudes by documenting the benefits that bats provide to Nicaragua’s smallholder farmers. Thanks to support from the Conservation, Food, and Health Foundation, Bat Conservation International, and the US Forest Service - International Institute for Tropical Forestry, we have conducted some of the first radiotelemetry work on this species, showing that they eat insects in agricultural areas and travel up to six kilometers in a single night. 

We are also partnering directly with local farmers from the Ventarrón Agricultural Cooperative, whose members grow fruit and subsistence crops in the National Park’s buffer zones. These farmers are generating crucial scientific data by helping to sample pest insects, collecting data on pest damage, and caring for bat detectors recording the ultrasonic calls as the bats hunt for insects.

When the farmers’ crops failed earlier this year due to drought, we were able to provide corn and bean seeds in exchange for their help with data collection. As the Vice President of the Cooperative said, “You came here to save the bats, and now the bats are going to save us!”  
In the evening of October 14th a 7.3-magnitude earthquake occured off the coast of Nicaragua. According to local reports the quake was felt from southern Guatemala to the central part of Costa Rica. Fortunately, everyone in Nicaragua was unharmed and there was very minor damage to the country's infastructure.
Earthquakes of this magnitude are a good reminder that much of Central America is very tectonically active. Earthquakes with a magnitute of 7.0 or higher are not uncommon for the region. We were glad to hear that this quake caused very little damage. 

Since 2008, Paso Pacífico has partnered with the Masaya Volcano National Park to study and conserve the unique bat colony residing in a lava tube cave of the volcano’s active crater. Under the leadership of Park Director Lilian Díaz, bat conservation has become a park priority.

Paso Pacífico partnered with Bat Conservation International and US Forest Service - International Institute for Tropical Forestry to offer their first Spanish-language, Latin American version of the well-known “Bat Research Methods and Conservation” field course, in which we trained several members of the park’s Ranger Corps. Since then, we have continued working with the park, developing exhibits on bat conservation for their visitor’s center, a guide to the park’s bats, and even discovering a new bat species in Nicaragua! With our recent partnership with local farmers, we are helping to build relationships between the park and local communities. 

To learn more about Volcano Masaya's bats you may download a free copy of the bat guide HERE!

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Andrés Lester-Coll is a volunteer intern who is working with Paso Pacífico’s sea turtle program. He helps to manage the turtle data and meets weekly with the sea turtle rangers to support them in recording and reviewing their wildlife observations. He is also assisting during Junior Ranger educational workshops. Andrés is a marine biologist who studied at Nova Southeastern University and more recently has been focused on the genetics of green sea turtles from the waters near Peru. It is fantastic to have his involvement in our sea turtle program. Thank you Andrés!
Special thanks to the donors who participated in the first ever annual donor trip to the Paso del Istmo Biological Corridor earlier this month. This year we had six participants who braved the rainy-season humidity to visit some of the most scenic parts of the Paso del Istmo Biological Corridor. Trip highlights included the release of recently-hatched sea turtles, a visit to reforestation areas planted by Paso Pacifico, and poetry readings about wildlife given by our Junior Rangers.

The trip included many personal meetings and was a unique opportunity to introduce our team to the donors who help make our work possible.

Thanks again for joining us on this adventure. It was a pleasure to get to know you better and we are grateful for your support!
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