I have long been a believer in the power of good photos for conservation. But they work even better when paired with a passionate, intelligent speaker. That’s why I was delighted to receive the below email from Shera, the Co-Executive Director at PROGRES Sulawesi & Conservation Scientist at the Wildlife Conservation Society Indonesia.
By illustrating scientific discoveries with spectacular photography, we equip others worldwide to overcome fear and inspire appreciation of the key ecosystem roles of bats. Our members have opportunities to contribute, both financially and personally, in making a measurable difference.
Recently, Partner Members Mindy Vescovo and Kathy Estes, funded and assisted me, our Workshop Advisory Trustee Daniel Hargreaves, our Program Coordinator Danielle Cordani, and Videographer Joey Chapman, in field photography and education in Costa Rica. We visited multiple locations including Fiona Reid’s Sylvan Falls and Harmony Hotel.
The major decline of traditionally abundant species, in Costa Rica and throughout Latin America, is cause for serious concern. In just a few days, we took a thousand new photos and recorded eight hours of video, covering 14 bat species. Many of these will soon be available in our photo gallery for use wherever needed.
While the public continues to be pummeled with scary claims of dire threats of disease from bats, Merlin has been rallying crucial leadership collaboration from within the international research community. In September, he provided an hour lecture, followed by an enthusiastic hour-long discussion, for virologists and epidemiologists at Brazil’s Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Rio de Janeiro. And several days later he provided the keynote address for a joint annual meeting of Brazil’s Bat and Mammal Societies, with special attention to helping conservation-minded students.
In November, Merlin presented the inaugural address for a joint meeting of the Biology and Ecology Societies of Chile. A key concern there involved how to prevent bat killing due to irresponsible warnings of disease. Amazingly, even in a country where only one person in all history had died of a bat disease (rabies), fear of bats due to exaggerated media stories reportedly is posing a serious threat to conservation progress. Concerned attendees at the conference were delighted to learn of our disease resources and other information and photos available for their use. They were also most appreciative for advice on expanding threats from wind energy and pesticides. Merlin additionally agreed to provide photos for the bat section of a new book on Chilean mammals.
Bats of Trinidad and Tobago is one of the finest books thus far published about bats. It is thoroughly researched, provides comprehensive coverage of one of the world’s richest bat faunas and is outstandingly illustrated. It is an easy and fascinating read for the layperson yet will also serve as an essential reference work for professional bat biologists. Anyone interested in bats should own a copy.
Geoffrey Gomes is a leading Trinidadian naturalist who is also a self-taught expert on local bats. As a naturalist, he provides broad ecosystem insights and a wide variety of fun folklore and practical advice not often covered by traditional bat biologists. Fiona Reid is unsurpassed in her knowledge of Latin American bats, has authored a wide variety of books on mammals, and is internationally recognized as a leading wildlife illustrator, specializing in bats. Having spent substantial time in the field with both authors, I am well aware of the depth of their knowledge and delighted to highly recommend the outstanding result of their co-authored partnership.
This book provides thorough, jargon-free coverage of bat natural history with special emphasis on the essential ecosystem roles of bats. Readers will learn the benefits of conserving and living harmoniously with bats, overcome needless fear, find solutions to occasional nuisance problems and be endlessly fascinated by bat sophistications and contributions to human wellbeing. The entire book is lavishly and extraordinarily well illustrated. It is the only source for life-size illustrations of all 70 species of bats known from the islands of Trinidad and Tobago.
–By Merlin Tuttle
On the Trinibats website you can look inside the book and see some of Fiona’s life-size bat artwork, Merlin’s photographs (a couple of my own got in!) and also read some of the enthusiastic endorsements. When ordering your copy, please use the links below.
Dr. Sara Bumrungsri, a leading bat ecologist, invited us to help document the essential roles of Cave Nectar Bats (Eonycteris spelaea) in pollinating some of SE Asia’s most ecologically and economically valuable plants near Hat Yai in Thailand’s Songkhla Province. We set up our bat photo studio in Sara’s lab at the Prince of Songkhla University, caught two cave nectar bats in mist nets set beneath durian flowers in an orchard, tamed them so they would go about their normal activities in Merlin’s enclosure, then brought them fresh flowers so he could photographically document their importance as pollinators.
We are home in Austin after 22 hours of travel from Sofia, Bulgaria. Merlin took more than 7,000 photos of 13 European bat species. Of these, the 91 best images were donated for use in conservation and educational programs and materials, providing a strong basis for expanded conservation education in Europe with special emphasis on Bulgaria. In addition, he and Antoniya Hubancheva appeared on nationally televised news, provided a well-attended press conference and planned future conservation priorities in Bulgaria.
The last time Toni and Dani fed our bats before releasing them back to the wild
Toni and Dani’s exceptional expertise in care and training of bats proved invaluable. We hated having to say goodbye to our well-trained bats, but even more will miss Toni and Dani, both of whom have become deeply appreciated friends. Merlin looks forward to helping them in every way possible as they work toward PhD degrees in bat biology. He is confident that both will be leaders in the future of bat conservation.
These are the final two species we photographed on the morning of our departure.
Our next bat adventure will begin on August 10 when we arrive in Brunei to photograph tiny bats that live in pitcher plants.
It’s been a few weeks since our adventures in South Africa, particularly our daytrip to Kruger National Park. To tell you the truth, I’m just calming down enough to be able to re-live the experience. Once the photography was deemed accomplished, our most generous hosts Frances and Peter Taylor suggested we take their pickup truck on the two-hour drive to the world-renowned Kruger National Park. Since this was a last-minute whim, we were unable to get reservations to spend the night in the park, so we were day visitors. But we did see many more animals than I ever imagined in one day in the park. On our way into the park via the Punda Maria gate, we went through the town of Thohoyandou, where The University of Venda is located and where the traffic police were lying in wait. I was stopped for speeding. (more…)
Valerie Linden and Sina Weier, graduate students from Germany doing research on the bats in this area shared an exciting bat netting experience with us during a braai last night at Peter and Frances Taylor’s home in Louis Trichardt, South Africa.
Valerie and Sina were trapping and netting for bats one night last week in a rocky area of the Goro Game Reserve dubbed “Mamba Mountain,” due to the number of Black mambas (Dendroaspis polylepis) in the area. These snakes are endemic to sub-Saharan Africa and are the longest venomous snake in all of Africa, averaging around 2.2 to 2.7 m (7.2 to 8.9 ft) in length.
Within one hour of bat netting, these two fearless women had three encounters with mambas,“considered the most-feared snake species in Africa, and also possibly in the whole world.”
Their first encounter of the evening was when Valerie unknowingly stepped on a juvenile, which quickly escaped. Next Sina saw an adult about 3 meters long. She quickly jumped upon a rock to get out of its path. The mamba came towards Sina on the rock, looked up at her, then went around the rock and out of sight. When Valerie saw the mamba in the photograph, she first saw its body draped over a rock. She followed the body down to the ground, realizing the raised head of the snake was within a meter of her foot! (See head in bottom center of photo) She jumped backwards a couple of meters and took this picture of the snake she estimated to be 4-5 meters long. After the third black mamba sighting in one hour, the researchers decided to pack up their nets and work elsewhere.
We wish them continued good luck on the rest of their work here in South Africa–Be Safe!!!