The hot, summer day is drawing to a close. The BBQ is ready for the burgers and you need a tall, cool drink. Do margaritas or tequila sunrises come to mind when kicking back after a day spent gardening and generally caring for your yard? If they do, then meet (Leptonycteris nivalis) more commonly known as the Mexican long-nosed bat
Tequila is made from the blue Weber agave which is also known as weberi agave, weber agave, and agave tequilana. The Mexican long-nosed bat is responsible for pollinating this plant so it will grow and produce future generations. No bats, no pollination service provided: no plant, no tequila.
Now the Mexican long-nose is on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™. The IUCN red list is considered to be the most comprehensive, objective global approach for evaluating the conservation status of plant and animal species.
What does this mean for those who love margaritas or enjoy a straight shot of tequila with salt and a twist of lime; well, rising prices are one possibility. Another is the disappearance of natural tequila from the market place and the addition of another synthetic product. This is supposition at the moment but does the world truly need another unnatural product?
The threat to the Mexican long-nosed bat is not clearly understood. It is generally thought the dangers come from the loss of roosting sites associated with land use change and the harvesting of wild agave.
The wild agave plants may be harvested to make mescal which is similar to tequila but has a stronger, smokier flavour. There are attempts being made to control the wild harvesting activities as the plant has potential to generate economic opportunities in a region where they are needed.
Another use of agave nectar is as a natural sweetener and this use may present competition for the long-nosed bat, as it directly threatens the food supply the bat depends upon.
We do not live in a vacuum, when we take an action there are consequences and we may, all too often, be unaware or worse, unconcerned, about what those consequences are, even though they often come back to effect us.
Everything in nature has a purpose and one of the purposes of an education system must be to enable us to understand this truth.
So the next time you make yourself a tequila sunrise, give some thought to the bat that made it possible for you to enjoy that drink.