Bats have been much in the news of late because they harbor a range of viruses similar in type to the one now ravaging human populations. In this important video, Dr. Winifred Frick, Chief Scientist for Bat Conservation International (BCI), discusses the links between bats and disease, explains why bats are not at fault in the current crisis and underscores the importance of conserving wild bat populations.
The BAND Foundation has supported bat conservation and BCI for many years. We have funded efforts to better understand and halt the spread of a deadly fungal pathogen that has decimated U.S. bat populations and most recently have provided a grant to help conserve one of the world’s rarest bats, the Mexican long-nosed, through a partnership aimed at restoring agaves – the bats’ primary food source and a hugely important plant culturally and economically to local communities throughout central and northern Mexico.
Bats play a critical and beneficial role globally, particularly in regards to agriculture. Insectivorous species eat enormous quantities of insect pests, thereby limiting crop damage and reducing the need for costly and environmentally damaging pesticides. They are also essential as pollinators and seed dispersers, especially in the tropics. Beyond the direct benefits they provide, bats are an exquisite and diverse family of animals with over 1,300 species that have evolved over tens of millions of years to fill a wide range of ecological niches.