Since it was dis­cov­ered, the Mon­fort Bat Cave served as a home for bats in Sa­mal Is­land

Sun.Star Davao - - FRONT PAGE - BY GILFORD A. DOQUILA / Re­porter

Sa­mal is known for its boun­ti­ful pris­tine beaches but there is more to Sa­mal than just its white sands and long pic­turesque shore­line. Sa­mal is home to the lit­tle fly­ing night crea­tures too: the bats.

In 2010, Guin­ness World Record awarded the world's largest known pop­u­la­tion of Ge­of­frey's Rousette fruit bats to the Mon­fort Bat Cave lo­cated in barangay Tambo, Is­land Gar­den City of Sa­mal. The cave was also rec­og­nized as the largest sin­gle colony of bats in­hab­i­tants re­sid­ing in one cave an­nex.

Mon­fort Bat Sanc­tu­ary owner and bat con­ser­va­tion ad­vo­cate Norma Mon­fort said bats are im­por­tant in main­tan­ing Davao's pre­cious gem and the king of all fruits, durian. Bats are one of the pol­li­na­tors of the durian flower which blooms only at night.

Presently, the bat sanc­tu­ary houses 2.5 mil­lion bats, def­i­nitely an in­crease from 1.8 mil­lion bats recorded in over the past eight years.

For every square me­ter, ap­porox­i­mat­ley 640 bats are cling­ing to the rock for­ma­tion of the nat­u­ral sink hole.

Mon­fort said this bat pop­u­la­tion ra­tio might be a sign of over­pop­u­la­tion in the cave. She said nu­mer­ous sci­en­tists and en­vi­ron­men­tal ad­vo­cates have al­ready pro­posed projects to ad­dress the is­sue.

A plan is al­ready crafted to have a chi­rop­to­rium, an ar­ti­fi­cial bat­cave, for an al­ter­na­tive space for the bats to live. Through this al­ter­na­tive space, bats can opt to live in a con­tainer van, where the tem­per­a­ture is mod­i­fied to repli­cate the cave's en­vi­ron­ment.

“In this way, we can help min­i­mize the over­crowd­ing in the bat cave, also it would be eas­ier for us to get the guano and help farm­ers process it for them to have fer­til­iz­ers,” Mon­fort said.

She added that with the present con­di­tion in the cave, she does not al­low the col­lec­tion of guano as this will dis­turb the bats and may even cause for them to leave.

Mon­fort said this had been the com­mon rea­son why most bats in Sa­mal Is­land aban­don their caves. She added guano col­lec­tion be­came ram­pant for a while, which dis­turbed the bats and even harmed fe­male bats in rear­ing their ba­bies.

Mon­fort said with the pres­ence of hu­mans in the cave, some fe­male bats get sur­prised, ac­ci­den­tally drop­ping their ba­bies. This is one of the rea­son why Mon­fort de­cided to leave the bats from close hu­man in­ter­ac­tion.

For now, Mon­fort con­tin­ues to ad­vo­cate to Dabawenyos and Filipinos alike in rais­ing aware­ness of how vi­tal bats are in main­tan­ing the bal­ance of the ecosys­tem.

Far from the ex­ag­ger­ated por­trayal of bats in tele­vi­sion and movies, bats are lov­ing crea­tures to their young and are hard­work­ing pol­li­na­tors. They could reach to Mati City, Davao Ori­en­tal look­ing for food and pol­li­nat­ing dif­fer­ent plants.

In ac­tively help­ing con­serve the en­vi­ron­ment by re­spect­ing nat­u­ral re­sources like caves, and planting trees, Mon­fort said this is al­ready a big step in pro­tect­ing the lit­tle fly­ing crea­tures and the en­vi­ron­ment too.

HOME. Mon­fort Bat Sanc­tu­ary at the Is­land Gar­den City of Sa­mal, houses the largest colony of Rousette fruit bats in the world.

POL­LI­NA­TORS. A Mon­fort Bat Sanc­tu­ary vol­un­teer un­der­scores the im­por­tance of bats in the durian pro­duc­tion of Davao City, as bats are one of the big­gest pol­li­na­tors of the durian flower which blooms only at night.

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