Leyla is a female Long-nosed bat (Leptonycteris curasoae) who was born during the last days of April 2000 in the "Kueba di Yechi" on the island of Curacao. This cave is very close to the Curacao International Airport and the airplanes fly just above it during its approach to the runway. As a baby, Leyla was very scared by the enormous size and the very loud noise that the planes made while passing over her cave, but eventually she got used to them and after a while she even began to wonder where they came from and where they were going to. Leyla also learned that more scary than these airplanes were some people who came her cave during the day and woke her up making lots of noise, sometimes even throwing stones at her and her family, leaving behind a lot of trash. In some cases these people were even making fire inside her house and some family members and friends had to leave their homes because of the suffocating smoke.

One day Leyla 's mom told her and her two older brothers that in a few days they would fly away with the whole family to the same places where the planes were going in order to visit family and friends. Leyla didn’t know she had family in other places other than the island of Curacao and was very happy and excited so she hardly slept during the day thinking about the trip. Leyla had already flown all over the island of Curacao seeking their favorite food, the nectar from the cactus flower, known as " kadushi ". Sometimes she reached places by the sea, but never dared to fly over the water because although she liked it she was also a little scared .

The big day arrived and in a family group they went flying over the sea to the Island of Bonaire. After a long and tiring journey, what was her surprise when she found that the cave where they arrived - Kueba di Watapana, was also very close to the International Airport of Bonaire and she could hear the planes taking off and landing like back home in Curacao. The vegetation around the cave was very poor because people had started to build houses in the area . But she visited other caves in the Barkadera area that had much more vegetation around. Leyla made many new friends born on the island and met some of her relatives who lived most of the time there. She also visited more than 100 caves, but in only 4 of them she found bats and the rest were empty.

After a while in Bonaire, Leyla with her family and a group of friends went flying together in another long journey to the island of Aruba. Some bats were very afraid of that trip, but Leyla now loved to fly over the sea to reach new islands and discover caves, family and bat friends she did not know. In Aruba again Leyla was very happy hearing many family stories about trips to Venezuela and Colombia , where huge amounts of rich agave plants and much larger caves were found. And at that very moment, Leyla decided that definitively one day she would visit those places.

At the present moment, Leyla visits Colombia, Venezuela and the 3 islands quite often because she likes to fly over the sea, and she also likes to taste the nectar of flowers and fruits of other places, explore unknown caves and make new friends. In her trips, Leyla transports pollen and seeds of cactus, agave, ceiba and guiro between ABC islands, Venezuela and Colombia.

Although she tried many different flowers, still the nectar of the "kadushi" flowers close to "Kueba di Yechi" is her favorite. Fortunately, the three islands, Venezuela and Colombia have this cactus and other species too, but every time she travels there seemed to be less cacti and getting food is becoming harder. Areas that normally had many cacti disappeared as if by magic and instead appeared very similar houses inhabited by people similar to those who visited the cave where she was born.


The "Murcimaleta" (bat suitcase) is an initiative of PCM- Mexico, it contains a notebook and Marcelo (a rag bat), it travels through Latin America and the Caribbean stopping on each country. This activity aims to :

1. Promote pride in Latin American and Caribbean children regarding the importance and diversity of bat species that inhabit their environment and encourage creativity through writing and drawing about this subject.

2. Trigger educational activities, communication and outreach to celebrate the year of the bat.

3. Encourage participants to establish a positive bond with the bats and spread among the general public more accurate information about the bats.

Because of the quantity and quality of the activities in each country it was a challenge to synthesize the work of the children in two sheets (four pages to give room to all participating countries). Each country devised its own strategy or educational activity and choose the best content to be represented in the Batnotebook. 

 


1st of October, Latin American Bat Day,
protecting our nocturnal allies

As part of the agreements among RELCOM members, this day is celebrated on October 1st in order to perform simultaneous activities in all Latin American and Caribbean countries. We hope to consolidate this celebration every year. Each country has developed very different strategies for its celebration: in Argentina, the Post Office printed a series of stamps depicting local bats; in Mexico, lectures and workshops were held at the Universum Science Museum; in Bolivia a wide variety of activities took place, ranging from exhibitions and talks to nightly activities to see and hear the bats in their natural environment.