Merlin and I met Nery about three years ago at a bat workshop in Paraguay held at the remote Los Tres Gigantes field station in the Pantanal, between Paraguay, Brazil and Bolivia. Merlin and colleagues Luis Aguirre and Kathrin ‘Kat’ Barboza Marquez from Bolivia along with Ted Weller from the U.S. Forest Service co-led the eight-day workshop put on by the U.S. Forest Service’s International Programs in conjunction with Guyra, Paraguay’s leading conservation organization.
At that time Nery, a Paraguayan, was completing his thesis for a DVM degree at the Universidad Nacional de Asuncion where he was studying vampire bats. He was invited by Guyra to participate in the workshop and impressed us as an exceptionally enthusiastic participant. It was during this workshop that he realized his interest was not just in veterinary medicine and vampires but in bats in general.
When he finished his degree, he applied for, and received, a scholarship from Spain to get a master’s degree in biodiversity and conservation with a focus in bats. Currently, he is studying at the Universidad Internacional Menendez Pelayo in Quito, Ecuador.
When the one-year scholarship ended, Nery took a job here in Ecuador to support his continued graduate work. He’s now in charge of protecting the indigenous Achuar people of Amazonia from vampire problems and helping educate them not to kill bats in gerneral, explaining to them that the majority of their bats are harmless and highly beneficial.
As soon as Nery heard Merlin and I were coming to Ecuador, he volunteered to help us as an opportunity to gain more experience working with bats. He’s been an invaluable help to us here in Ecuador, and we are so pleased that he plans to continue his work for the conservation of bats.