Cerro Blanco Protected Forest has been designated an Area of Importance for the Conservation of Bats (AICOM).
Cerro Blanco is owned and managed by Fundación Pro-Bosque (Pro-Bosque), one of World Land Trust’s (WLT) conservation partners in Ecuador. This is the first time that an area of Ecuador has been named an AICOM.
Since 2007 Pro-Bosque has been focusing its efforts on bat conservation.
Biologist Jaime Salas has created an inventory of species found at Cerro Blanco, and Leonardo Álava has been maintaining and updating the inventory. Together they have constructed wooden roosts for bats and installed them in strategic places in the reserve. They have also developed an educational programme for school children and even a bat comic!
To celebrate the AICOM designation, Pro-Bosque is holding a bat festival on 19 October 2013. The event will include children's activities, camping and opportunities to record and identify some of the forest's many nocturnal residents.
32 species of bat
Cerro Blanco is home to 32 recorded species of bats. Of these, the most important are the Fraternal Fruit-eating Bat (Artibeus fraterculus) and the Harmless Serotine (Eptesicus innoxius), both of which are endemic to the dry forest.
Other significant species are the Little Big-eared Bat (Micronycteris megalotis), Heller's Broad-nosed Bat (Platyrrhinus matapalensis), Pallas's Mastiff Bat (Molossus molossus) and Wilson's Bonneted Bat (Eumops wilsoni), which was only discovered in 2009.
(John Burton, WLT Chief Executive)
One of the more unusual species of bat found at Cerro Blanco is the Fisherman Bat or Greater Bulldog Bat (Noctilio Leporinus), which flies low over water to catch fish. It is estimated that this bat can catch 30 or 40 fish of up to 80mm in length in a single night.
“Although we often focus on large mammals, habitat preservation is just as important for small mammals, so I am delighted to hear that Cerro Blanco has been declared an important area for bat conservation,” said John Burton, World Land Trust Chief Executive. “Just knowing that Cerro Blanco is home to 32 different species of bat, including the Fisherman Bat, is enough to a warm the heart of any conservationist. Congratulations to Pro-Bosque.”
Cerro Blanco was declared an Área de Importancia para la Conservación de los Murciélagos by the Latin American Network for the Conservation of Bats on 2 July 2013.
Las Cuevas de San Antonio de Pichincha, in the Pichincha province of Ecuador, is a Place of Importance for the Conservation of Bats, but the Cerro Blanco nomination is the first AICOM for an area of Ecuador.
More about WLT's support for conservation in the Ecuador Rainforests »
You can support conservation in Cerro Blanco by donating to the Action Fund and specifying Pro-Bosque in the comments box.