Natural World (1983–…): Season 33, Episode 6 - Natural World - full transcript

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Mexico. A wild land.

The animals that live here
do so in greater numbers

and variety than almost
anywhere else on Earth.

With so much at stake,

one man has fought tirelessly
to protect the wildlife of Mexico,

but there's a particular creature
he's devoted his life to saving.

Rodrigo Medellin is the champion

of one of the world's
most hated animals - bats.

There's little bats,

there's big bats,
there's short-snouted, long-snouted,

big eyes, little eyes, long ears,
short ears - every type of bat.



He is embarking on the culmination
of his life's work -

a mission to save
both his favourite bat

and the legendary
drink of Mexico - tequila.

In Mexico and in other places
because of what I do,

they call me the bat man.

All I want is that people get
the right information about bats

and about how important
they are for us

and if that entails them calling me
the bat man, so be it.

I AM the bat man.

Rodrigo Medellin was
not like other children.

While his friends kept gerbils
and hamsters,

Rodrigo's pets were vampire bats.

I remember when I was a kid,

I would keep vampire bats
in the bathroom of my home,



feeding them blood from cows -
or from me, sometimes -

keeping blood in the fridge so that
I could feed the bats every night.

That was not easy to withstand,
and still my parents let me do that.

It was fascinating to me to see
these bats feeding and interacting

with each other, and they'd
take care of each other so well.

It was a lot of fun.

It was the beginning of a lifetime's
obsession.

But Rodrigo grew up in a world
that loathes bats.

In the 19th century, there was this
author who wrote a book

entitled Dracula, that really
touched the imagination of people

around the world

and that has turned bats
into monsters, unfortunately.

Bats were so hated in Mexico

because of their association
with evil

that people would hunt them down
and kill them,

burning them in their caves.

Their populations crashed.

To this day, people are afraid,

saying that they're filthy,

and that they are
everything bad in the world.

That is really not the case at all.

A kilometre into a mountain
south of Mexico City,

Rodrigo is searching for a bat
so persecuted

that it was nearly lost for ever.

It's called the lesser long-nosed
bat, or tequila bat.

This is one of his favourite
childhood haunts.

For most people, caves would
sound like a terrifying place,

like a place where
they don't belong.

But caves are my perfect place.

Caves are an incredibly
peaceful place.

Rodrigo has spent much of the last
20 years underground,

working to save the tequila bat.

Bat guano all over.

Under that layer of bat faeces

is a whole layer of living insects.

Beetles, beetle larvae, fly larvae,

moth larvae, that are just moving
everything, everything, everything.

You look and everything is moving.

Because bats move from cave to cave,
he never knows what he'll find.

As he approaches the roost,
he must leave his lantern outside.

Our cameras can see what he cannot.

No-one has seen this before.

Look at this.
There are so many bats around us.

In this beautiful space.

There are thousands of bats here,
of many different species -

perhaps even the ones he's after.

But Rodrigo can't see them.

If I close my eyes now,

it's exactly the same as if I have
them open, I see absolutely nothing.

In terms of my ears,

I am hearing a stream of bats
coming from that direction around me

and passing through, and then a
bunch of bats squealing back there.

I can picture
a map of the cave in my head.

The bats also navigate
using their ears,

but they have evolved
the ability to see with sound.

They make high-pitched
sounds beyond our hearing

and listen for their echoes
off objects.

This how they can fly in the dark.

This is what is called
the hall of hell -

temperatures well above our comfort
zone, close to 38-40 degrees Celsius,

very high relative humidity - all
of my clothes are completely wet.

People associate this heat
with hell.

But I feel perfectly at home here.

Rodrigo pushes into the deepest
chamber

to find out if his precious
tequila bats are here.

He may not be able to see the bats,
but the guano beneath his feet

is a vivid history of what's
lived in this cave.

And Rodrigo knows his guano.

Oh, yes - this is a lump
of lesser long-nosed bat poop.

This tells me that this is indeed
a lesser long-nosed bat colony.

They're here, and thanks to
Rodrigo's work, they're safe.

Today, gates and guardians
protect this cave.

Now Rodrigo must catch one to see
if they're healthy.

To do this without harming them,

he uses mist nets, too fine for
the bats' echolocation to detect.

My first lesser long-nosed bat
came into my hands

when I was, like, 15.
We knew nothing about it.

Then we found out that they were
really endangered.

We were looking at roosts
that were known to have

many thousands of
lesser long-nosed bats

and when we visited them, they
only had a few hundreds or none.

That immediately told us that they
were in trouble.

So this is one of my best friends.

This is the lesser-long nosed bat.
This is an amazing animal

that migrates for thousands
of kilometres.

It's a small, but powerful flier.
Look at this amazing wing.

This is what made bats
so successful in the night skies.

Long-fingered hand here
and a very long arm here.

You can see both vein down here

and a series of muscles
stretches here.

It's very much alive,

so that they can control making it
broader or narrower.

That makes them masters of the air.

It's getting ready to start a really
exciting time,

a really demanding time,

a really dangerous time too,
which is migration.

The migration of this tiny
endangered bat

is one of the greatest
in the animal world.

This epic journey happens at night,

so it's taken Rodrigo 20 years
to work out their route.

Over his life, he has discovered
many of the roosts they use

on their 2,000-kilometre journey
and protected them, one by one.

The entire migration is
powered by nectar.

I'm going to give it
a bit of sugar water here.

This incredible tongue
that they have

is the perfect instrument for them

to reach into deep flowers
like agave flowers.

It's incredible that an animal this
big can do what these guys do.

I love them because of that.

Rodrigo is about to immerse
himself in the bats' world.

By tracking their entire migration,

he wants to see if he's achieved
what many thought impossible -

saving the tequila
bats from extinction.

The stakes are high - their fate is
tied to Mexico's most famous export.

As a Mexican,
I am proud of my country

and part of the Mexican spirit
is a beverage

that is called tequila.

These spiky plants
are the source of tequila.

Tequila is a very important
part of the Mexican economy

and it is owed to bats.

Bats provide pollination for the
tequila plant, the agave plant.

Mexico relies on tequila.

Over a quarter of a billion litres
were exported last year.

Every plant is harvested by hand
by men called jimadores...

..in a trade passed
down from father to son.

The agaves are planted
where they've always grown -

in the flight path of the bats.

What agaves do is, they grow
and grow and grow

and then when the time comes,
they send this amazing shoot,

huge flowering stalk,
up into the sky.

They invest all of their energy that
they have accumulated over 15 years

into one single reproductive event

that basically costs them
their lives.

The link that they formed has been
here for millions of years.

Agaves rely on the bats
to move their pollen.

Bats rely on agaves
so that they can survive.

We could not have this
amazing product

if it wasn't for the bats, and
I can't help but think of the bats

and thank the bats for the incredible
service they give us.

Without the bats,
there would be no tequila.

Bats are so vital
in spreading pollen and seeds

that they're known
as the farmers of the tropics.

Without them, our crops
and forests would collapse,

with terrible consequences
for us all.

The tequila bats' journey
takes them west...

..and they sweep through the valleys
and plains of Central Mexico.

The land beneath them
changes constantly.

And always, they pass over us.

Until 500km
west of where they started,

they hit the Pacific Ocean, and
the uninhabited islands of Chamela.

Rodrigo has heard reports that
the bats have been gathering here.

He's never been
to this cave before.

To his horror, it's full of
cockroaches - he hates cockroaches.

So many cockroaches,
and I almost fell on them!

But he's astonished by what
he finds.

This is incredible.

So many lesser-long nosed bats,
all around me.

It's so good to see that their
numbers are stable and big.

The tequila bats have come
together from all across Mexico

with one thing on their minds.

They're mating here right now,

and this is a very well
protected cave.

The ocean takes care of that.

While Lucas, the boatman,
tucks into some oysters,

Rodrigo pushes
deeper into the cave,

and the source
of the bats' aphrodisiac.

Oh, yes!

A big male, which is
what we expected in this cave.

It's full of males getting
ready to reproduce.

Such well-tempered bat,
with big testicles ready for action,

loaded with sperm and ready
for the females that are gathering

here in this cave, and this
should have a patch on its back.

Oh, yeah - the patch is there,
very oily.

I can feel it with my finger here.

That patch is put there by the males.

They put faeces and urine and saliva
there,

and that is very attractive
to the females.

The females are going to come
and take a whiff of that

and just fall in love with this guy.

This boy is ready to mate

and it's time to let him go
so that he can do his deed.

There you go, my friend.

On the roof of this cave,

an extraordinary mass seduction
is taking place.

Once the females find a male whose
sex potion entrances them,

they'll choose him as their mate.

And in three months,
1,500 kilometres away,

a single baby bat will be born.

It may be alluring for the females,

but for Rodrigo, the smell
is overpowering.

This is a really stinky cave,

and there's lots and lots of bats
here.

Lots of them everywhere.

And this is...oh!

And this is certainly a challenging
cave to be in, to be sure.

Eventually, the smell
and cockroaches are too much,

even for the bat man.

The bats will stay on this island
for weeks,

mating and building
their strength

before they continue on
the next stage in their migration.

It will be perhaps 30 sunsets
until then.

And each evening
is a changing of the guard.

As the birds of Mexico
head home to roost...

..all across this enormous country,
bats are about to reclaim the night.

Nowhere is this more spectacular
than the bat volcano of Calakmul.

Predators are gathering.

It's called the bat volcano,
because every night, it erupts.

This is one of the greatest bat
colonies on Earth.

Perhaps as many as three million
bats live here.

To avoid being eaten, they form
a living tornado, 200m tall.

In this whirling mass,

it's almost impossible for their
predators to choose a target.

But the bats must head
to their feeding grounds,

and they start to peel off across
the forest.

Now the hunters can strike.

One bat narrowly escapes.

Others aren't so lucky.

Bat falcons and brown jays also
swoop in to make their kills.

But nothing can dent the swarm.

They're heading for the cornfields
across the forest.

There, they will devour 20 tonnes
of insect pests...

..like this hatching armyworm moth.

Each moth can produce hundreds
of hungry caterpillars.

And unprotected,
the crops would be doomed.

Most Mexicans don't realise
they owe not only their tequila,

but also their corn to bats.

Thanks to bats, we're eating this.

Rodrigo's main weapon to defend
the bats is education.

His teams work in over 30
states across Mexico,

and he never misses
a chance for a bit of bat PR.

You can see it in the eyes of people
when you talk to them

and it makes sense - all of a sudden,
everything makes sense.

Their frame of mind changes and
they're bat friends from then on

and they propagate the message.

They talk to people in the house,

they talk to people in the office,
school et cetera.

And little by little,
the situation goes snowballing

and really, really changes
the panorama for the bats.

I can turn them
around in ten minutes.

In 15 minutes I give them the facts,
I give them the evidence,

I give them the images.

Over 20 years, Rodrigo and his
team have converted the people

whose land the bats rely on

from potential destroyers
to bat defenders.

Just a few centuries ago,
bats were worshipped in Mexico.

The darkest month was named after
them

and one of their gods was a bat.

This is the rainforest of the Maya.

Because the tequila bats have still
not left their island,

Rodrigo has a chance to return
to the place he calls home.

Once, a vast empire
stretched across these lands.

Now their temples, palaces,

and sacrificial altars have been
swallowed by the forest.

This jungle is very special
to Rodrigo.

For here, 30 years ago, he helped
create the Chajul field station.

It has since become his base
for bat research.

I always look forward
to my first morning,

when I'm going to be woken
up by the howlers calling.

Nature right there, with you,
just outside your window.

It's great to be back.
It's peaceful.

It really feels like coming home.

Every time I go into the forest
looking for bats,

there's something different
going on.

When the forest is alive,

every little piece of the forest
that you see has a secret to unveil.

One of the first nights
that I spent here,

I set my mist nets and I was blown
away by the diversity of bats,

by the abundance of the bats.

There's nothing like this anywhere
else in Mexico.

Not like this - this is 50,
40 species in a week.

Many bats that I caught there had
never been caught in Mexico before.

So those are new
records for the country.

In a couple of nights, Rodrigo and
his team catch 22 species.

That's more types of bat than
inhabit the entire British Isles.

Flower nibblers,

fruit gobblers,

and even some bats
that devour other bats...

..leaving only their wings.

And tonight, he's caught something
very rare and very weird.

It's got suckers in its thumbs and in
its feet.

And really real suckers.

SOFT POP

Beautiful.

I have this glass -
it's perfectly smooth

and it's using its suckers
to move around the glass.

This sucker-footed bat can stick to
the sides of curled-up jungle leaves

in which it hides in the daytime.

There's no other mammal or bird or
reptile who have suckers like this.

This is something really unique
in the natural world.

Now it's time to let him go.

The suckers make it really hard
to come out.

Some gentle encouragement,
and he's away.

Go on.

Finally, it's time for Rodrigo to
return to the tequila bat island.

It takes three days by boat,
car and foot.

The females are now pregnant

and are ready to start their long
journey north.

They're not the only travellers
who will set out tonight,

for on the beach,
new life is stirring.

This is a miracle. This is many
miracles happening right now.

These are all olive ridley
sea turtles.

Their mother deposited the eggs
here about two months ago

and these newborns are incredibly
powerful,

having just pushed
through about two feet of sand.

And they're getting ready to
go into the ocean.

Good luck to you all!

From this beach, the turtles will
spread across the oceans.

Those that survive will be
pushed by their instincts

and their memories to return to this
beach to lay their eggs.

It's this same urge to go back
to the place of their birth

that drives the mother tequila
bats north.

They too are returning to where
they started life.

Before they spread out
across Mexico,

Rodrigo has a rare chance
to count them,

and estimate how many there are.

This is an amazing thing -
I can't see anything.

The cave is straight ahead of me,

so this thermal camera can tell me
what's going on there.

Using this technology,

we can estimate how many bats
do we have in this cave.

I'm guessing about 40,000 lesser
long-nosed bats.

This, of course, is chaos.

I mean, really, they're going in
every possible direction

but the spectacle is incredible.

This is staggering, considering
that 20 years ago,

when Rodrigo started to save them,

many caves only had a few hundred
bats, or none at all.

The path the bats must now take

lies between the mountains
of the Sierra Madre and the sea.

This fertile land
is called the nectar corridor...

..Because here, every year,
billions of flowers open at night.

The bats must feed on these
constantly

to fuel their journey,
otherwise they'll die.

And they have to time it perfectly.

Over millions of years, the bats
have learned by trial and death

to track where the nectar
is going to show up next.

Bats are early or bats are late,
plants die and bats die.

What the bats miss is hoovered up
quickly in the daytime,

in a fiesta of hummingbirds.

But both hummingbird and bat face
an uncertain future.

Humans are affecting every last
corner of the world

in many different ways, some ways
that we still don't understand.

Biological diversity is under
threat from many angles,

and not all of them are
manageable or reversible by humans.

Mexico is developing fast.
The land the bats rely on

is being swallowed
and nature is being destroyed.

But because of Rodrigo,
at least some is safe.

30 years ago, he was asked
to assist the new government

to devise laws to save
the wildlife of Mexico.

Land-owners, the Mexican people,

worked as partners to create a vast
network of linked nature reserves

made from their private
and the government's public land.

I've worked with small groups,
big groups,

individuals, in the government halls,
everywhere.

All we need is a little
bit of information

and people are going
to change about bats.

Now, over a quarter of Mexico
is protected land.

Where other countries have lost
much of their wildlife,

Mexico is a rare success story.

But nature in Mexico
is still threatened

and Rodrigo is still
pushing to save more.

This cave is one of the safe ones,

protected by local families
who share the land.

Down here, Rodrigo
and the bats feel safe.

The peacefulness in here is really
overwhelming.

It's really nice.

The only sound around you
are the bats flying around you.

This here is a bed of bat guano.

I could just lie down here
and take a nap.

It would be a very nice nap.

I just absolutely love it.

But even in their deepest
sanctuaries,

where their bodies
lie undisturbed by any scavenger,

they're never quite secure.

For this cave is called
the cave of the serpents.

Somehow, a group of snakes

have learned that they can
catch their food here.

This is something
I have never seen before.

These are rat snakes.

But they're getting used to eating
bats inside the cave,

as they come out.

As darkness falls outside,
the bats prepare to leave.

From much deeper underground,

they start to throng the narrow
passages towards the surface.

And the snakes start to emerge.

Look at that!

This snake is deep into the cave,

where the bats are supposed to be
completely safe from predators.

Not so! Dinner.

The bat dwarfs the snake's head.

To swallow it, the snake
must dislocate its jaw.

This is one more danger
that bats face

along their migration,

and still they're there
and surviving.

THUNDER CRASHES

But just when the bat populations
look safe, disaster strikes.

Within weeks of each other, not one
but two hurricanes hit Mexico

and batter the entire Pacific coast.

This is a threat beyond even
Rodrigo's control.

He loses the tequila bats.

Across the country,
he sends his students to everywhere

the bats have ever been found.

For three weeks they search,
day and night.

This has never happened before.

Yeah, OK. So the bats are not
here. Well, I don't know.

If many of the bats have
been killed,

the future for their species
is bleak.

The way I feel right now,
the trail is getting cold.

I'm not sure
if we're going to find them.

Our only hope is to keep poking
and looking

in every little piece of bat habitat
that we know of,

to see if they are there.

It's a tense time for Rodrigo.
He puts out rewards for any leads.

At last, one of his students thinks
they've seen a tequila bat

in a cave called Las Vegas.

They block the exits
and he heads in alone.

Finally he emerges - triumphant.

I found them!

It took weeks of searching
everywhere.

It took two hurricanes to move
the bats around

so that we could not track them,
but they're here.

I got, like, er, maybe like ten,
so the population is healthy.

Another dot in the migration
of this species.

I'm so relieved. I've found them!

Oh, wow!

Oh, look at this!
This is a pregnant female.

Her wings are in great shape.

Wow! I can feel the head right here
and the rump over here.

This is the baby right here.
The baby is really big.

I can't imagine the energy that this
bat has spent

just flying around
with a foetus growing inside her.

Thank you, mom.
You're ready to go.

With proof that there are bats
here in numbers,

he can get legal
protection for the cave.

The tequila bats have another vital
place of permanent safety.

For Rodrigo,
it's time to visit some old friends.

There are over 1,200
species of bats in the world.

Three are vampires.

And two of these
species live in this cave.

I got you!

I thought this was
a common vampire bat

but it's a hairy-legged
vampire bat.

They're not common at all.

This hairy-legged vampire bat
feeds almost entirely

on mammal blood in this area here.

They have a really soft
side, which is that they share blood.

No vampire bat can afford to go one
night without feeding.

We found out that they'd come
back from their foraging

and regurgitate a little
bit of the blood for the guys

that didn't feed that night.

So basically they have
a blood cooperative going

in every vampire bat colony.

They are nice. I mean, look at them.

Really nice.

This might look like the stuff
of nightmares,

but the cow is oblivious

to the vampires feeding on its back
and sides.

Vampire teeth are so sharp that
the cow doesn't feel their bite,

and an anticoagulant in their saliva
keeps the blood flowing.

They don't suck,
but lick up the flowing juices.

Often, they will return to feed on
the same animal, night after night.

Regrettably, Rodrigo can't
stay for dinner.

He's back on the trail
of the tequila bats.

He heads north
to the end of the nectar corridor

and the edge of the Pinacate desert.

The Pinacate desert is one of
the great deserts of North America.

It is part of the Sonoran desert

and as such is part of the driest
desert in this continent.

It is one of the most challenging
places on Earth to make

a living as a human being
or survive as a species.

This place has been a desert
for at least 100,000 years.

The bats are aiming for a cave,
deep in the heart of this desert,

in the badlands just
south of the US border.

There are no agaves
to feed off en route.

Instead, the tequila bats,

nearing the end of their three-month
pregnancy,

must seek the flowers
of the giant columnar cactuses.

These flowers accommodate almost
half of the bat's body into them.

It means millions of years
of evolution

in which the flowers have become
perfect receptacles

for the bat's head and snout and
tongue

and the very long tongue of
the bat goes into those flowers

and lick the nectar out and they come
out completely covered with pollen.

They move out,
they go to another columnar cactus

and there is pollination.

Because he knows the bats will
come to the cactus flowers,

Rodrigo has a chance to solve a
puzzle that's long been on his mind.

How far can they fly in one night?

It is a female - very lively,

in very, very good health.

We're going to mark it
with a blue powder.

Rodrigo coats the bats he catches
in harmless UV dust,

which they will lick off and digest.

We keep the head out
so that the powder

does not affect its senses.

That should be enough.

The bats will now
head on to their roost.

And if Rodrigo can find a glowing
bat-dropping there, he can prove

how far they've flown -
at least, in theory.

No-one has tried this before.

At daybreak, 50km
from the cactuses,

Rodrigo finally
arrives at the most important cave -

the end point of their long journey.

The birth cave of the tequila bats.

This cave is the largest colony

that this bat has anywhere
in the world.

It's Rodrigo's great hope
that enough bats have made it here

to sustain their population.

The future of the species depends
on what will take place

in this ancient volcano.

We cannot get in the cave
during the day.

We would create chaos,
worrying females

that are taking care
of their babies.

Rodrigo must wait
by the cave mouth.

Night falls.

And then...

At first a trickle,
then more emerge.

At least some of the bats
have made it.

It's a tremendous
relief for Rodrigo.

Now the mothers have left
the cave to find food,

it's safe for Rodrigo to go inside.

They turn on their UV torches,

and carefully comb the cave.

Ah!

Blue poop.

This is proof that these
bats are really long distance fliers

doing 50km one-way trips,
and then coming back every night.

This is a really good find -
confirmation.

To fly to the cactus where Rodrigo
dusted it and back

is a 100-kilometre round trip.

No-one suspected the bats
could fly so far.

This is a spotted skunk,
and it's coming out now.

I have never seen it before.

Look at the incredible pattern
and a huge feathered plume,

advertising that
it is about to spray us,

but it chooses to move off
into the dark.

Rodrigo moves far deeper
into the maze of the volcano

than he's ever been before.

We can check
on the reproductive success

by gauging how many babies are
hanging from the roof of a cave.

At last - far below the desert
surface -

the bats' secret, their nursery.

This is a group of babies,

and there's a mix in their ages.

Most of them are about a week old.

Very few are one-day-old

and two-day-old babies.
It's always good to see them.

These are the first babies to be
born of what will hopefully

be hundreds of thousands.

The future of the entire species
hangs in this cave.

They synchronise their births
so that everything happens

in the space of two weeks,
three weeks - that's it.

You have twice that many bats
in there.

This is...this is huge.

Oh, yeah,
this is a good spot for the camera.

Rodrigo sets up remote cameras.

He can't stay when the mothers
return,

so he's never seen what
happens here during the day

when they're reunited
with their pups.

This is a very young baby -
one-day-old, two-day-old.

This is not a good place
for the mother to leave this baby.

The pup is so young, its umbilical
cord is still attached.

It's yet to grow the fur
and fat that will keep it warm.

These babies are tiny.

At this age, they cannot
keep their temperature up.

They have to be surrounded
by dozens or hundreds of other babies

so that they keep the heat in place
in what we call nurseries.

But this poor guy is here
by himself.

If his mother doesn't come soon,

his temperature is going to drop
and he is going to be in trouble.

Death is always part of the natural
history of these species,

but I always worry about the fate
of these little guys.

Soon the mothers will start
to return

from across the great
desert wastes.

It's time for Rodrigo to leave.

In the hours before dawn, the bats
flood into the ancient volcano,

like an eruption in reverse.

As the day passes
on the desert surface,

the cameras record the bats' hidden
lives deep underground.

At nightfall,
once the females have left again,

they can retrieve the footage.

It's a long night watching through
the many hours recorded.

This is er...this has to be
at around 7 or 8pm.

Nobody has ever seen a nursery
in the process of building up

the numbers of babies that are being
left behind by the mothers.

But she's pregnant, right?
Not this one? No, this one.

And then...

Look at this!

Having a baby!
Having a...she's having a baby!

No es possible!

The baby is coming out!

THEY SPEAK SPANISH

This is incredible.

She's licking, scratching, and again.

Wow!

The camera has captured something
never seen before.

Look at the tiny forearm!
The face - this is the face! Yes!

First its head,
then its wing emerges.

Then suddenly, the baby is out
and clinging to its mother.

The wings are protecting the baby,

so nobody can come close to the baby
at all.

We catch a glimpse of the newborn
pup's face

as its mother cleans it
in her fingertips.

Look at that! Ooh! Baby was
slipping away from the mother.

The baby must be very, very slippery

and it's slipping down away
from the control of the mother,

so she catches it with the wing.

The mother quickly positions
the baby on her teat

for its first feed of her milk.

That is amazing.

There's a few mothers.
There's one, two, three, four.

But this is all babies.

Over the next few days,
the colony swells

with thousands upon thousands
of new babies.

This is the flagship colony
that is helping me understand

what is the actual
conservation status of that species.

If we multiply that one birth
hundreds of thousands of times,

tells me that the species
has recovered.

Rodrigo could never have dreamed
20 years ago

that he'd be seeing such a recovery.

His tequila bats
have come home to roost.

Our work as conservation
professionals

is not to put as many species
as we can

in endangered species lists.

Our work is to work as hard as we can

for as long as is needed -

as long as is needed only -
to recover that species.

Finally, Rodrigo is ready to make
an extraordinary announcement.

There's places where I have to be
in big meetings.

You have to address the world.

Before that happens, I picture myself
in a cave,

in the darkness, in the quiet,
in the peace of a cave.

Everything is great then.

At the Ministry of the Environment
in Mexico City,

journalists and ministers pack the
room to hear what he has to say.

APPLAUSE

HE SPEAKS SPANISH

Thanks to the work of Rodrigo,
his team,

and hundreds of others across this
country, the lesser long-nosed bat

is the first species in Mexico

to be officially saved
from extinction,

and it will be removed
from the endangered species list.

This is a clear indication
that our work is actually having

a good impact in the world.

His method of combining research,
law and community education

has meant every single bat colony
has either stabilised or increased.

His techniques are now being applied
with further success

to save endangered species
of all kinds

across Latin America
and the world.

Rodrigo really is the bat man.

This is a great day
for the lesser long-nosed bat.

There's a lot of work to be done

but first, it's time to celebrate.