Scientists and Tequila Makers Save Endangered Bat

Lesser Long-nosed Bat

Volunteer researchers and tequila makers worked together for the rescue of the lesser long-nosed bat

An unusual team worked together for the rescue of the lesser long-nosed bat, an American Southwest pollinator. The team made up of volunteer researchers and tequila producers aimed for the removal of the lesser long-nosed bat from the list of endangered and threatened species.

The bat feeds on nectar and plays a crucial role in the pollination of many plants, such as agaves in Mexico. It entered under the protection of the U.S. Endangered Species Act in 1988 when its population dropped to 1,000 specimens in 14 known roosts.

The bat was threatened with extinction when its habitat was destroyed. For example, its roosting areas in Mexico were destroyed in an attempt of eradication directed at rabies-infected vampire bats and other roosting and feeding areas were destroyed in other processes of development. Today, the number of lesser long-nosed bat is estimated to 200,000 in 75 roosts stretching from Southern Mexico to Southern Arizona and New Mexico.

The scientists in Arizona monitored how the bats used the hummingbird feeders and obtained a comprehensive view on the habits of the animal, especially on the migratory ones.

But why did the tequila manufacturers get involved in the process of bat rescuing? The Mexican tequila makers use agaves pollinated by the lesser long-nosed bat. They proved themselves valuable in the rescuing process by making bat-friendly varieties of tequila. They raised the profile of the bat and informed citizens on the rescuing campaign and the protection of the bat habitat.

The roosting sites in the U.S. include agaves and cacti but also organ pipes on public lands. Measures have been taken to protect the roosts by the authorities and access has been limited in roosting sites like caves and abandoned mines.

Some bat populations are only found in Southern Mexico, but others migrate to Northern Mexico and across the border in Southern Arizona and New Mexico in search for maternity sites. The creature’s search for food is drawn by a sweet nectar trail made up of agaves, cacti and other flowering plants that are part of the bat’s diet.

The efforts were not in vain and the bat was declared recovered in Mexico in 2015 and was taken off the list of endangered species. A proposal was made by the Fish and Wildlife Service to be removed from the list of the U.S. too.
Image Source: Wikimedia_Commons