Application Form for Site of Importance for Bat Conservation (SICOM)
The Island of Bonaire possess a system of more than 150 natural caves, but only five of them are known to be used as diurnal and maternity roosts by the five species of cave-dwelling bats reported for this island. The Curaçaoan Long-nosed bat (Leptonycteris curasoae) uses all five, but only two of them are used by the Ghost-faced bat (Mormoops megalophylla). Leptonycteris curasoae is one of the two nectar-feeding species responsible for pollination and seed dispersal of columnar cacti in Aruba, Curaçao and Bonaire. This species has been classified as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Both L. curasoae and M. megalophylla depend on caves as diurnal roosts. Altogether, these attributes reflect clearly the great importance of providing special protection to the caves used by these species. Of the two maternity roosts shared by both species, Kueba di Watapana has demonstrated to be the most important, because it contains one of the largest colonies of pregnant and lactating females of L. curasoae during the reproductive period. Unfortunately, this cave is outside the limits of the protected areas on Bonaire. Its designation as SICOM will contribute to set the basis for adequate management plans and a protective legislation that secures the integrity of this roost and the colonies of L. curasoae and M. megalophylla present in them. The most positive direct impact of this SICOM will be the protection of gravid females of L. curasoae and their newborns. Finally, its designation as a SICOM will complement the AICOM already created.