Bat Conservation in Mexico and Latin America
In 2004, in recognition of his work to conserve Mexico’s bats, Rodrigo Medellin became the second ever recipient of the Whitley Award donated by the Friends of WFN. Since then, Rodrigo has become one of our most successful and influential winners, receiving Continuation Funding in 2005 and again in 2011, with a total of £120,000 awarded by WFN to support the expansion of his work, nationally and internationally.
Within just two years of his first award, Rodrigo had established his own NGO, BIOCONCIENCIA, successfully expanded his conservation programmeme from 16 to 25 of Mexico’s 32 States and rediscovered the flat-headed bat – a species not seen for 30 years and thought extinct. He and his team have continued to make a real and measurable impact on how people perceive bats, based on cutting edge scientific study as well as through intelligent, engaging and well-targeted education work.
Rodrigo’s programme in Mexico has been so successful that he has expanded it into other countries across Latin America. This platform has led to the establishment of the Latin American Bat Conservation Network (RELCOM), where he works alongside scientists including fellow Whitley Alumnus Luis Aguirre in Bolivia, as well as Bernal Rodriguez in Costa Rica, a finalist in this year’s Awards.
Rodrigo’s current focus is to highlight the crucial role that bats play in the ecosystem and show how the services they provide as pollinators and seed dispersers – and even in preventing the spread of infectious diseases – are more significant than previously thought. In doing so, Rodrigo aims to make the world aware of how crucial bats are to our own survival. Indeed, without bats controlling numbers of crop-destroying insects, there would be a lot less food on tables right across Mexico, and without them pollinating the agave plant, there might also be no tequila with which to wash it down!
In 2012 Rodrigo will be working alongside the Mexican Government to carry out the final studies required to remove one of his target species, the Lesser Long-nosed bat, from the endangered species list. This in itself is one of the strongest and most objective indicators of his effectiveness and will mark the first time a Mexican species has been de-listed.
Rodrigo’s reputation as one of the world’s leading conservation professionals is reflected in the many positions he holds with international bodies such as the IUCN, CITES and the UN. Also, as 2012 is the International Year of the Bat, it is no surprise to know that Rodrigo has been appointed a Year of the Bat Ambassador.
We are delighted to announce Rodrigo as the first recipient of the new Whitley Gold Award.
Read about his 2004 Whitley Award here.