🦇 Bats: a key element for the ecosystem and productive landscapes 🦇

These much-maligned mammals help maintain healthy ecosystems

Bats are vertebrates mammals covered with very short hair that helps them protect themselves from humidity and cold. In the world there are about 1,000 species, being one of the most diverse groups of mammals. These animals have nocturnal habits: they leave their shelters at dusk and go through the forest in search of food or a couple, returning to the refuge before dawn where they will remain resting all day.

Of all the bat species in the world, there are only three that feed on blood, and of those only one feeds on the blood of a mammal, which is the common vampire. The 70% of them feed on insects, such as moths, flies, mosquitoes and beetles (can get to eat half their weight in one night) and the rest feeds on pollen and fruits, or are carnivorous and can eat frogs, lizards, mice and sometimes other specimens of their species.

In Honduras, around 112 bat species have been found . The lack of information makes the attacks of the human being the biggest threat facing bats, due to their particular appearance and nocturnal habits. The myth that they are “bloodsucking animals” is what most affects these mammals, especially among the livestock population. For one of the species, the vampire bat, attacks the cattle, biting it. But it is not the bite itself, which hurts the cattle, but the bites can cause a series of infections and diseases in cattle. In cows, milk production decreases and until the death of the animal, which causes economic losses for farmers.

In spite of this, bats are animals that regenerate and maintain the environments where other species live

Why are bats important?

The presence of bats in ecosystems has many benefits, among them are:

• Control of insect pests without causing damage to the environment, as if the exterminators do it.

• Disperse seeds and pollinate flowers of plants of ecological importance. (About 500 species of flowers from around the world depend on bats to be pollinated)

• Your saliva contains an anticoagulant

• Eliminate mosquitoes, which are often carriers of dengue, chikungunya and other diseases.

Strengthening farmers and farmers

To the north of Olancho in the municipalities of Yocón, Mangulile, Plan Jano, La Unión and El Rosario, the Productive Landscapes project together with the National University of Agriculture (UNAG) trained 118 agricultural and livestock producers , members of the Field Schools , with the objective of publicizing the ecological value of bats and their contribution to maintain a healthy dynamic in ecosystems and productive landscapes.

Together with the inhabitants of the municipalities, strategies for the protection and conservation of the present fauna were defined, seeking alternatives of coexistence between producers and biodiversity. The participants learned to identify the vampire bat and the measures they can take to avoid attacks on livestock and avoid economic losses, always respecting biodiversity.

“When they told us that they would give a training on bats I thought it would be about killing the bats, since they affect our cattle, but already explaining their ecological importance, we understand that it is better to have bats because they have the food that is generated with the pollination work they do “. Héctor Canela, Mangulile field school

Protecting livelihoods and bats at the same time

By training on the importance of bats, the project contributes to compliance with the country’s main planning instruments and international commitments aimed at promoting the sustainable development of the communities and the conservation of the country’s biodiversity and natural resources.

More on the project “Generating Multiple Global Environmental Benefits through Sustainable Productive Landscapes”:

In order to reduce the myths and gaps between biodiversity conservation and livestock production, the project “ Generating Multiple Global Environmental Benefits through Productive Sustainable Landscapes “, financed by the GEF and implemented by MiAmbiente and UNDP, is farmers on the value and ecological importance of these species.

Written by

UN Development Programme (UNDP) Latin America & Caribbean / Programa de la ONU p/ el Desarrollo (PNUD ) América Latina y el Caribe latinamerica.undp.org

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