Bat Conservation International (BCI), based in Austin, Texas, is devoted to conservation, education, and research initiatives involving bats and the ecosystems they serve. It was founded in 1982, as scientists around the world became concerned that bats essential to the balance of nature and human economies were in alarming decline. Under the founding guidance of Dr. Merlin Tuttle, an internationally recognized authority on bats, the organization has achieved unprecedented progress by emphasizing sustainable uses of natural resources that benefit both bats and people.
BCI now employs a staff of 39 biologists, educators, and administrators, supported by more than 14,000 members in 70 countries. Its pioneering accomplishments have been featured on all major news networks in the United States, international wildlife documentaries, and in numerous prestigious books, magazines, newspapers, and web sites worldwide, educating millions of people to appreciate bats as invaluable allies.
BCI’s many educational achievements include major television documentaries, such as The Secret World of Bats, and award-winning exhibits that continue to reach millions of people each year. Its publications and audiovisual programs empower thousands of BCI members and collaborators to greatly extend the organization’s philosophy and mission.
BCI’s conservation efforts have resulted in permanent protection for a majority of North America’s most important remaining bat caves, saved millions of bats from being accidentally buried during mine safety closures, and led to the establishment of the first national park in U.S. history to protect a tropical rain forest. BCI has sponsored research documenting the key roles of bats in major ecosystems, supported training for graduate students in 33 countries, and trained hundreds of wildlife managers from more than 12 countries in bat management and conflict avoidance techniques.
Today, BCI is expanding its bat conservation goals, and through its growing worldwide partnerships, is multiplying the impact of every dollar invested. Eighty-six cents of each dollar raised goes directly to fund conservation, education, and research that helps bats and the ecosystems that rely on them, a higher proportion than reported by seven of America’s 10 largest conservation organizations.
Much remains to be done as we educate an increasingly urbanized generation to appreciate and live in harmony with the natural world. BCI has shown that bats and people can live together in harmony with great mutual benefit. Furthermore, we have reestablished millions of bats, where without timely intervention there would now be few or none. Bats are an irreplaceable and invaluable natural resource that simply must be protected. Nevertheless, they still rank among the world’s most misunderstood and endangered wildlife, hence BCI’s continuing mission.