Davao fruit bats show unique behavior

Subscribe Now January 30, 2011 at 07:59pm

Foreign scientists figured out an unusual behavior of the over two million fruit bats that find shelter inside the Monfort Bat Cave, on the Island Garden City of Samal in Davao del Norte.

Studying the behavior of bats in the said cave, Dr. Rick Sherwin of the Christopher Newport University observed a significant number of pregnant bats in the colony. “Their behavior is so unusual in such a way that even if the females are still pregnant, they already start mating for the next pregnancy,” the scientist said.

Sherwin is among several foreign scientists who are currently conducting their research and studies at the Monfort Bat Cave.

The scientists believed that such unique behavior that surfaced just recently is important to the reproduction cycle of the said endangered mammal.

This pushed them to buckle down and further immerse in the area to address the issue of extinction of fruit bats.

“First, we need to start finding new homes for these two million. We’ll study on how to return the condition of nearby caves,” he said.

Sherwin cited the initiative of the United States and Canada in building an artificial habitat, a temporary man-made shelter, where these bats can settle for awhile.

They hope to find indicators why these bats love to live at Monfort Cave while most bats left their previous homes. Studies showed that most bat caves have been emptied recently.

The team is also looking for ways on how to harvest bats’ wastes known as bat guano so it can be used as organic fertilizer.

Norma Monfort, owner of the bat cave, was handpicked by the Bat Conservation International to spearhead the first big kick-off event of the global celebration of the Year of the Bats.

Bat enthusiasts, scientists, and people from the academe from the various parts of the world joined the Philippines as this part of the country spent a week-long celebration filled with symposia, eco-tourism tours, and knowledge sharing.

Bat Conservation International executive director Nina Fyascione commended Monfort’s efforts of mainstreaming bat conservation by sharing her property and making it an eco-tourism estate where people all over the world can come and learn the life of the fruit bats.

“Years ago, we have been surrounded by myths and misconceptions about bats, that they are blind, they have rabies, and so many bad thoughts about them. Now, people get to appreciate the role of bats in our economy, in tourism,” she said.

Bats are considered fruit pollinators, they dispense seeds, and eat pests.

While in tourism, bats do play a significant role as well.

The Monfort Bat Cave has become a popular tourist destination in the Davao Region as it is only here that tourists witness the life of bats during daytime and their emergence during night.

The emergence of these fruit bats starts at 6 p.m. where they hunt for food as far as 50 kilometers away from their base and come home before midnight.

Monfort embraces the role as an ambassador of bat conservation. She clears out misconceptions about bats.

“People know little about bats because they are the animals of the night and the dark. But one thing that they symbolize is motherhood. They are the only mammal which both nurses its young while flying to hunt food,” she said.

Monfort urged more people to help her be the steward of the Monfort Eco-Tourism Estate.

Source: mb.com.ph

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