Of the 7 Areas of Importance in the Conservation of Bats (AICOM) present in Costa Rica. The Santa Rosa sector of the Guanacaste Conservation Area (ACG) stands out for its constant efforts to promote education, research and conservation of our flying mammals. After this protected area was declared AICOM in 2013, efforts have increased significantly to learn about the chiropterofauna of the place, in addition to raising awareness through education among people from surrounding communities about the importance of bats.
This research tries to find the factors that influence the efficient work carried out in this AICOM. The combination of different factors, among them the history and trajectory of Santa Rosa, the type of ecosystem and the different elements of conservation that it houses, as well as the financial support and the presence of trained and passionate human resources are key for AICOM to be able to go from paper to reality in bat conservation.
It is a site of high diversity of highly threatened species and habitats, such as the tropical dry forest. It presents species whose southern limit of its distribution range is the Guanacaste dry forest. It preserves 54% of the richness of bats in the country (64 species). That includes seven of the nine families present in Costa Rica and bats of all feeding habits, from uncommon predators (Vampyrum spectrum, Chrotopterusauritus and Glyphonycterissilvestris), to frugivores with little information (Carolliasubrufa and Centuriosenex) or rare nectarivores for the country (Glossophagaleachii). The situation of this ecosystem is critical, since it is heavily pressured by forest fires (mostly provoked) and by changes in land use.
Education and awareness
During all these years, different education and awareness activities have been carried out on the subject of bat conservation, however, there is a significant increase in activities that went from 17 activities (period 2002-2012) to 61 activities (period 2013-2022).
These face-to-face education and awareness interactions about bats have managed to impact a total of 455 people during the 2002-2012 period and 505 people during the 2013-2022 period, with a total of 960 people reached in the 20 years of analysis. Most of these people have been primary and secondary students of the Biological Education Program or residents of the ACG’s protected wilderness areas.
Another of the bat conservation activities that is actively presented in the ACG are biological investigations, which, as well as education and awareness, show an increase, going from 11 investigations (2002-2022 period) to 20 investigations (2013 period). -2022)
Christmas Bat Count AICOM Santa Rosa
Within the research and education activities, support is provided to the Program for the Conservation of Bats in Costa Rica through the development of the Christmas Bat Count. In the last 09 Christmas counts of bats at the ACG’s AICOM Santa Rosa (2013-2021), a total of 32 species of bats have been recorded, in 11 different monitoring sites, using mist nets, acoustic recordings and search for shelters. 17 bat shelters have been documented, 82 people have participated including university students, forest firefighters, volunteers, ACG-SINAC officials, civil society among others, in addition 4 awareness stands have been made in the La Casonade Santa Rosa Historical Museum.
Factors that influence the success of the ACG’s AICOM Santa Rosa:
- The AICOM Santa Rosa certification has helped promote research, monitoring and education in favor of bat conservation.
- The site’s natural-historical resource helps to capture the attention of domestic and foreign researchers who bring new research questions and techniques.
- The stable presence of the people currently responsible for AICOM allows the continuity and successful development of the activities carried out.
- The combination of the different actors of the human-economic factor that exists within AICOM has been the key to go from paper to reality in the conservation of bats.
A lot of information has been generated, there are project ideas that are presented as new conservation challenges.