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Cuban Greater Funnel-eared Bat

Natalus primus


The Cuban greater funnel-eared bat is the largest Caribbean representative of a small, ancient family of cave-dwelling bats that evolved in the West Indies.

Until a living population was found in 1992, it was thought to be an extinct species, with fossil localities known from nearly all the island of Cuba, as well as on Isla de la Juventud, Grand Cayman and various islands in the Bahamas. The species is only known from a single ‘hot cave’, the remote Cueva La Barca, located on the Guanahacabibes Peninsula at the western tip of Cuba within one of the largest remaining tracts of Cuban lowland forest. Because natalid bats congregate in large, conspicuous colonies, this is likely to be the sole locality for living Natalus on the entire island of Cuba. The global population size of the species remains unknown, although some reports have said that there are several hundred individuals remaining.

  • Order: Chiroptera
  • Family: Natalidae
  • Population: Unknown
  • Trend: decreasing
  • Size: 46.1-51.2 mm (?)
GE / IUCN Red List (?)
Not Evaluated Data Deficient Least Concern Near Threatened Vulnerable Endangered Critically Endangered Extinct in the Wild Extinct


This species is cave-roosting and is known from a single ‘hot cave’ location; Cueva la Barca, located near the western tip of Cuba within one of the largest remaining tracts of lowland forest on the island. Following the rediscovery of the species, the boundaries of Guanahacabibes National Park were extended to encompass Cueva la Barca (with a buffer of ~500 m). It is considered unlikely that other caves containing the species remain undiscovered, since all hot caves large enough for a resident population are thought to have been thoroughly surveyed.

Habitat and Ecology

The funnel-eared bat is a slow-flying, understorey bat, which probably feeds primarily on soft-bodied insects, like moths and crickets. This species roosts in gregarious colonies within a cave, and is insectivorous. Natalids are restricted to hot caves probably because they are susceptible to dehydration; they quickly perish when taken out of humid environments and have not been successfully kept in captivity. The echolocation call parameters for the funnel-eared bat are in the process of being described, and new details on its roosting ecology and behaviour have also been uncovered from the acoustic monitoring. Although being the largest natalid species, is likely a poor disperser and may only forage at short distances from its roosting site. But with the national park boundary so close to Cueva la Barca, a critical unknown is the foraging distribution of the species and, in particular, whether key habitat for the species remains unprotected.

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Conservation Actions

For each key category of conservation action, we calculated a conservation attention score based on expert information. In this graph, a higher score means the action is being carried out more intensively over more of the species range. The colour shows how important each action is considered to be for the conservation of this species.

Engaging stakeholders
Addressing threats
Status of knowledge
Management plan
Capacity building
Behaviour change
Awareness raising
  Score: 100 means the activity occurs at high level across more than 75% of the species range
Very Low

Overall Conservation Attention

We combined all of the expert information on conservation actions to calculate an overall conservation attention score for this species. Please help us to reach our goal of establishing dedicated conservation attention at “High” levels for all EDGE species.

Very Low Low Medium High

More information

Recent studies have grouped all possible conservation activities for any species into nine key categories (Washington et. al 2015). For each action, we asked experts for each species to assess the extent to which that action is being carried out and how much of the species’ range that action occurs in. For each action we used these two pieces of information to calculate the conservation attention score per action. A score of 100 means that the action is being carried out to a high level across at least 75% of the species range. We then combined the scores for all actions into an overall conservation attention score for the species. The experts also judged how important each category was to the conservation of that particular species.

Download the Survival Blueprint for this species below. Each survival blueprint is compiled by an EDGE Fellow working on the species with input from collaborators and stakeholders. The Survival Blueprint provides a status review (information on the distribution, protection status, habitat & ecology, threat and stakeholder analysis) and more information on the action programme listed here.

Vision (30-50 years)

Natalus primus populations protected by empirically driven projects based on social awareness and sustainable environmental conservation

Goal (5-10 years)

Establish baseline ecological information of N. primus, its habitat requirements and population dynamics, to support efficient long-term conservation of N. primus and its habitat.


Implement a widespread, non-invasive, acoustic monitoring study to evaluate habitat use and distribution of the species in different habitats in the west of Cuba Critical
Establish a long-term monitoring study of the N. primus population using non-invasive field research methods to collect ecological information to update its IUCN Red List status Critical
Update and improve in situ conservation actions using up-to-date ecological information about N. primus and co-occurring bat species Critical
Establish future collaboration agreements with national and international institutions to guarantee long-term research projects and conservation actions for N. primus. Critical
Implement exploratory research to locate other caves/areas with populations of N. primus, or the potential to support them High
Implement a public outreach program at the Museum of Natural History of Pinar del Río to increase public social awareness of Cuban bat endangered species High
Implement capacity building actions for local conservation leaders and community members to drive community conservation of the species and broader ecosystem High
Implement ongoing physical analysis of N. primus individuals to evaluate diseases, presence of parasites and to collect genetic material to inform future evaluation of potential inbreeding Low

The Search for the Cuban Greater Funnel-eared bat and the Cuban solenodon

  • Locations: Parque Nacional Guanahacabibes and Parque Nacional Sierra Cristal, Cuba
  • Active dates: 2017 - ongoing
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Jose Manuel de la Cruz-Mora

  • Project name: Life history and habitat requirements of Natalus primus, one of the most endangered bats in Cuba
  • Project site: Cueva La Barca, Guanahacabibes Peninsula, Cuba
  • Active: 2018 - 2020
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