Preserving the species and breaking myths is the mission of the mammal study group at the Universidad del Valle and other universities, with one species in particular: bats.
Young biologists from the Universidad del Valle carried out a Christmas count of the bats that inhabit the city of Cali, in a task with the support of students and specialists from other universities.
An initiative at the Latin American level to disprove myths, preserve the species and learn about “the only flying mammals in the world”.
We share the city’s fauna with bats, species that have been considered a threat to humans for many centuries.
Some point to the “influence of science fiction movies”, where talking about bats automatically meant talking about vampires and something devilish and ghostly.
Believing that they suck blood, that they are blind and that they are pests, are part of the myths that “have stigmatized the species.”
Pandemic and bats
As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic where bats were blamed for the spread of the disease, a theory that spread worldwide, further complicated their existence.
Of the 200 species in Colombia, 15 are in Cali.
This hypothesis caused the death and persecution of these species, without understanding the importance to the ecosystem and that studies have not yet verified that the virus could have been transmitted from bats to humans.
All of this led a group of young people from the Universidad del Valle, then biology students and now graduates, to hold informative talks so that the Cali community could get to know the species more closely, understand that Of the 200 species in Colombia, 15 are in Cali.
They feed on fruits and insects, control insect pests of food such as bananas and cocoa, and coffee.
They can live in caves, trees, but some are solitary.
- More than 500 plants depend on bats to reproduce.
- They are not blind.
- Some feed on fruits, others on nectar, but most on insects.
- Colombia is the second most diverse country with these species.
October has been considered the month of these species, but this December the Latin American and Caribbean Network for the Conservation of Bats in Colombia wanted to promote the Christmas count in this area of the country.
Countries like Mexico, Guatemala and Costa Rica participate in these meetings, where data such as sex, age and morphological measurements are taken.
For Manuel Francisco Cano, a biologist and member of the Univalle Therios Studies Group, he expressed: “We must remove the stigma that society has given them, that they are ugly, bad, dirty organisms and on the contrary, they must be cared for by their importance to the ecosystem.
Cano also invites the public to be aware of these recreational activities, and improve the treatment of a misunderstood species, but of the utmost importance.