Forty internationally recognized experts on trade in endangered flora and fauna gathered in Guadalajara last week for a four-day Commission on Environmental Cooperation (CEC) workshop directed toward the plight of Mexican tarantulas.
“Good,” I thought, when I first heard of the event. “But will it benefit the grassroots projects in Mexico which so badly need help?”
My less than enthusiastic response goes back to 1994 when the Carlsbad Caverns Association invited me to address a meeting of U.S. National Park people on the War Against Bats in the Mexican Countryside, caused by confusion of vampire bats with insect, fruit and nectar-eaters. My first-hand observations had resulted in an article entitled, “Who Cares about Mexican Bats?” which brought me to this meeting of those who, I thought, could easily provide funds for my dream project: radio spots on country-music stations, with Mexican singers explaining how to distinguish vampires from beneficial bats.
My slide show was warmly received by the park people who had been very upset about U.S. bats “disappearing” in Mexico, but at the end of the day I heard the dreaded words: “We’ll form a committee to discuss this.” Apparently they are still discussing it ... and my project still awaits funding.
Years ago, my friend Rodrigo Orozco devised an ingenious plan to save Mexico’s tarantulas from extinction by flooding the world market with inexpensive ones raised in captivity. He self-financed his personal war on poaching and succeeded admirably, but now needs funds to keep his project growing. Would last week’s gathering of international experts bring Tarántulas de México the financial assistance it desperately needs?