Conservation technology has come a long way in recent decades. Scientists can now track birds’ migratory patterns via satellite and try to bring species back from the brink of extinction through advanced fertility technology. But there is still room for more low-tech approaches. Sometimes all you need are small fishing nets and four bottles of nail varnish.

They were the chief tools in a project undertaken recently by a group of Cuban and international scientists trying to get a grip on just how many endangered greater funnel-eared bats remain in their last-known habitat of Cueva la Barca (“boat cave”), a huge, humid underground cave system on Cuba’s second-largest island, Isla de la Juventud.

The researchers needed a way to catch, mark, and release the bats in order to track them, but due to the fragile status and modest size of the bats, the more…
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