During both weeks of our workshops, we encountered periodic rain showers, keeping the normally hot, dry-season temperatures far more comfortable than anticipated. The downside was that we had poor netting results on three nights during the second week. We shared the forest with some interesting characters, such as a black jaguar, which fortunately left us alone, though it likely observed our activities. This one was photographed on a trail camera near one of our netting sites.
We set up a triple-high mist net almost every night, both weeks.
We caught vampires nearly every night at Cocobolo Nature Reserve because it’s adjacent to a cattle ranch. Vampire bats are able to run and jump from the ground. They have heat sensors in their nose, that help them locate capillary-rich locations to make painless feeding incisions, and they have efficient kidneys that allow them to pass the water from blood as fast as they drink. This enables them to go home with a full protein meal. They are also socially sophisticated, forming long-term “friendships,” sharing meals with others in need, and adopting orphans. Unfortunately, due to large-scale introduction of domestic animals, such as cattle, their numbers have greatly increased, enabling them to become pests. Consequently, literally millions of beneficial bats in Latin America have been killed simply because they were mistaken for vampires.
Thanks to our intrepid workshop participants, we have greatly advanced knowledge of bats in the Cocobolo Nature Reserve, more than doubling the number of bat species known to be present. We’ve also added substantially to MTBC’s bat photo library. We especially thank Michael Roy, founder of CREA: Conservation through Research, Education and Action, and owner of Cocobolo Nature Reserve for hosting us. And to the resident scientists, interns and volunteers, Genny, Matt, Zack, Alex, Francisco, Joel and Abel, who took such good care of us and introduced us to a variety of non-bat wildlife on the reserve.