Application Form for Area of Importance for Bat Conservation (AICOM) Washington - Slagbaai
The Island of Bonaire has a system of natural caves that probably exceeds 150 in number. Those caves house at least five species of bats: Leptonycteris curasoae, Mormoops megalophylla, Natalus tumidirostris, Myotis nesopolus and Glossophaga longirostris. The former four depend primarily or exclusively on caves as diurnal and maternity roosts. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species considers L. curasoae as Vulnerable. Several studies have underlined the importance of this bat as a pollinator and long-distance seed dispersal agent of several species of succulent plants in northern South America. Likewise, indirect evidence suggests that between December and March part of the populations of Aruba, Curaçao and Bonaire abandon these islands and move to the arid and semiarid zones of Venezuela and Colombia. Until now, we did not know that L. curasoae reproduced on Bonaire, but during the last three years, studies conducted on the island have shown that it is important as a mating and maternity site for the species. At present, we have identified four caves used as maternity roosts. Mormoops megalophylla also reproduces on Bonaire, with at least two maternity caves. Recognition of the Washington–Slagbaai National Park and surrounding areas as an AICOM will contribute to protecting the main habitat types used by all species present on the island as food sources and roosts.