CONSERVATION IN ACTION
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.
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.
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.
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!”