Mexican long-nosed bats and lesser long-nosed bats are pollinators and nectar-feeders that rely heavily on wild agave. Increased demand for tequila and mezcal is having a detrimental affect on the availability of this crucial food source and both bat species are predicted to lose 50% of their suitable habitat over the next 30 years. Bat Conservation International is working to create a bat corridor of agave foraging habitat along migratory routes from central Mexico to the southwestern US. They are collaborating with a wide array of partners to grow agave plants in greenhouses and plant them in rigorously vetted sites. This ten-year plan is far-reaching in its intended scope, and will eventually have the capacity to introduce tens of thousands of new agave plants along the bats’ migratory paths.
In 2018, Bently Foundation awarded BCI with a grant of $60,000 to help launch One Million Agaves, hoping BCI can surpass their lofty 10-year goals to save the two species.
After an impressive first year, BCI is making great strides in ensuring that long-nosed bats have a healthy future. During year one, BCI’s partner scientists determined that some of the most important landscapes to focus on for restoration and conservation are those surrounding maternity roosts. These caves are where female bats spend most of their pregnancy, and ample forage within their vicinity is crucial to developing healthy offspring. As these maternity roosts are all in or near Mexican ejidos, BCI will be working closely with local communities to provide mutually beneficial conservation and restoration solutions. Bently Foundation awarded BCI with $100,000 more in 2020 to aid in this fundamental approach.
Photo Credits: 1st by J Scott Altenbach; 2nd-5th by Dan Taylor, BCI; last by Winifren Frick of BCI.