In January 2016, we made history. The first course on bat biology and conservation in Belize for Belizeans was held at Ya’axche’s Golden Stream Field Station. We had the honour of hosting Prof. Rodrigo Medellin, who delivered the course. The week-long course covered subjects such as bat evolution, morphology, monitoring bats as indicators and measuring environmental services provided by bats. The course also had a strong practical element and in the evenings students went out to set up mist nets and handle bats.
Prof. Medellinn (below), better known as the Mexican Batman, is a professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and has spent his whole life devoted to the conservation of bats. At the course, he delivered captivating lectures and had students fascinated and wanting to learn more. This group of students are now the first group of young Belizean biologists that are equipped with the necessary tools to spread the message that bats are important to us in more ways than we think.
This course was the first step towards creating a bat conservation group in Belize. The next step will then be to join a broader network of bat researchers and conservationists in the Latin American Network for Bat Conservation (RELCOM). Membership of this network will ensure that bat research and monitoring will have the resources and support to continue in Belize. There’s still a long way to go but we are finally making progress!