THE BAT: LANDSCAPE SPECIES
Developing project
Executive producer: Ana Cristina Henríquez


The fight for survival is even more dramatic when strong desert winds and extreme temperatures intensify in the arid zones of the Paraguaná peninsula, in northwestern Venezuela. Life or death depends on each molecule of water for the species that have to survive in this part of the world. It is marvelous to discover how nature has managed to install unusual mechanisms for the mutual benefit of two species: the bat and the cactus.

With its tiny ears, its elongated face and extended tongue for reaching inside flowers, the bats extract nectar and pollen from flowers of the pillar-like cactus during their nocturnal flowering, as if it were some delicious morsel. By keeping at the right angle and with surprising agility the nectar-eating bat, after acting as the exclusive pollinator for these plants, dispenses the seeds of its fruit. This process on which the cacti and other plants from arid zones depend, guarantees the stability and permanence of this endangered landscape in northern South America.

This plant- animal bond is achieved, not only through the cactus nectar, but also by the germination and dispersal of the seeds of these plants. The success of both processes depends on the passage of a significant number of seeds through the digestive system, which increases the probability of germination from 10% to almost 90%.

Considered to be a territory that for millions of years lay under the sea before revealing itself as dry land, the bats have learned how to take advantage of the environmental conditions on the peninsula. Caves in this region are formed by the effects of ocean currents eroding the coral soil. This material absorbs the heat, generating high temperatures and almost 99% humidity. Even though these conditions seem unbearable for humans, the result is favorable to animals whose young are born hairless, requiring an optimum environment to ensure survival and rapid growth.

The existence of this mammal is being threatened by the ignorance of both the local population and visitors alike, who destroy the caves and the colonies where the bats take refuge. To conserve this small animal is to encourage equilibrium in a threatened landscape which is unique in the neo-tropical regions.


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