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Friday, March 22, 2013

Activism Spotlight: Bat Conservation International

Due to the length of the post, the "Suggested Reading" section featuring Viridorari's first guest writer will be published as a separate post from "Activism Spotlight." Normally, the two sections would be posted together.

Activism Spotlight

To go along with this month's chosen animal, the Giant Golden-Crowned Flying Fox,  this first Activism Spotlight will shine on an organization called Bat Conservation International (BCI). Founded in 1982 by Dr. Merlin Tuttle, and based out of Austin, Texas, the mission statement of BCI is to conserve the world's bats and their ecosystems to ensure a healthy planet. BCI recognizes that bats are vital to the world's ecosystems, but are unfortunately among the mos misunderstood and endangered species in the world. BCI conducts and supports global science-based conservation efforts. Their innovative programs combine research, education, and direct conservation to ensure bats will be around to maintain their ecosystems and sustain human economies for a long time. 

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Today, BCI is supported by contributing members from sixty different countries, and their accomplishments have been featured on all of the United States' major news channels. BCI has created permanent protection for the majority of North America's remaining vital bat caves. The organization efforts have saved millions of bats from being buried alive in mine closures, and led to the establishment of the National Park of American Samoa, the first United States national park to protect a tropical rain forest. The park encompasses approximately 8,000 acres spread over three of Samoa's seven islands. In addition to protecting land animals and plants, the park preserves about 2,500 acres of Indo-Pacific coral reefs. I hope to visit this beautiful park someday!

I became a member of BCI when I was a kid, after my love for bats was kndled by my favorite bedtime story; Janell Cannon's Stellaluna. I "Adopted a Bat" from BCI, a popular program aimed toward kids where you recieve a plush bat toy, an adoption certificate, and species information on the bat you choose. The money from the bat "adoption" goes toward BCI's conservation efforts. Adopting a bat makes a great gift for the youngermembers of your family. Grade school teachers can also use this program to recieve a "class pet" and use the adoption to lead into teaching students about the importance of wildlife conservation. Other way to support BCI include becoming a member, making a one-time donation in honor of someone, or purchasing BCI merchandise. Follow these links to find more information about supporting BCI: and 

BCI's website has awesome and fun resources for kids to learn more about bats, and if you would rather not donate to BCI, the site offers way that you can preserve bats from your own home. When I was younger, Mom, Dad, and I followed BCI's guide for building a bat house, a structure that still stands today and shelters our nocturnal neighbors. Once, a resident fell out of the bat house in the middle of the day, and I had the pleasure of assisting in transferring it to a place where it could take flight from. I was able to safely handle the bat by following instructions that BCI provided. It was a win-win situation; I had the opportunity to interact with my favorite animal up close, and the poor, confused little guy was able to resume his daytime nap.

Learn more about BC I at

Information about building a bat house: Please contact me at or comment below if you have any questions about my bat house!

Other ways to help conserve bats:

Animal of the Month Update
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The Golden Capped Fruit Bat is the largest bat species in the world with a wingspan of six feet, a weight of 3.3 pounds, and a body length of 55 cm, or 22 inches. The Malayan Flying Fox is often mistaken as the largest bat because although it is smaller in body mass and size, it has a longer wingspan.

Our gentle giant is called by the local names "paniki" and "kabog" in the Philippines. 

Unlike most bat species, the Gold Capped Fruit Bat navigates and locates food wihtout echolocation, relying instead on its good vision. Echolocation is a method of "seeing" that many bats use. They emit an extremely high pitched sound that is beyond the human hearing range. The sound travels through the air as a wave, and the energy of this wave bounces off any object it comes across. After making the sound, the bat listens to the returning echoes, and then uses the information it receives from the echoes to "see". The bat can detemine where the object is, how far away it is, its size, and the direction in which it is moving. Echolocation is a powerful hunting tool for insectivore bats, which find and catch their prey in mid-flight. Although many bats prefer the use of echolocation over normal vision, this does not mean they are blind. The idea that bats are blind is a common misconception. 

Mentioned in this post:
  • The National Park of American Samoa

  • Malayan Flying Fox 

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