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Mexico plans its first bat sanctuary

The National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP) seeks to create the first sanctuary of bats in Mexico, fundamental for the development of ecosystems in Mexico species.

In collaboration with the Institute of Ecology of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and civil associations, such as Bioconciencia and Pronatura, have worked on the identification of possible key refuges for the species.

Bats are allies of agriculture and the population close to their habitat, since they represent the most efficient natural solution to combat large quantities of insects considered as agricultural pests.

Conanp recognized the importance of ecosystem services that bats provide and given the importance of the preservation of the caves in which they take refuge, their protection will be a priority issue on the agenda of conservation of the current year.

Therefore, in collaboration with Bioconciencia and Pronatura, Conanp has identified seven caves throughout the country whose protection is essential for the survival of this specie and to guarantee the benefits that Mexicans receive from these animals.

One of these sites is the Cueva de la Boca, in the municipality of Santiago, Nuevo León, 36 kilometers south of the city of Monterrey, which during the summer houses a maternity colony of five million bats.

This species, which is approximately nine centimeters long and weighs 15 grams, is of vital importance in the control of pests, since it feeds on various insects such as moths.

This place is essential for the ecological health of the region, since it is estimated that one million bats of this species get to ingest up to one ton of insects per night. In addition, this bat is a significant source of food for other relevant species such as the peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus).

La Cueva de la Boca once housed one of the largest colonies of this species in Mexico, but due to vandalism and lack of protection measures the population decreased.

Fortunately, in the 1990s, thanks to binational efforts between Bat Conservation International and the Mexican Bats Conservation Program, the population began to recover due to the change of perception through long-term environmental education programs.

In 2006 Pronatura bought the land for its protection and environmental protection; However, the threats to the cave and the change of land use have continued, so Conanp, along with the municipality of Santiago, the government of Nuevo Leon, scientists from the UNAM and Pronatura Noreste work to guarantee the conservation of this priority cave.

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