Samal’s bat cave overcrowded?

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 28 Jan) – The founder of the foundation that works on bats preservation said there is an overcrowding of these creatures for the past years that they saw the need to construct a chairoptorium, or an artificial bat cave, to house more in the Monfort Bat Cave that holds the title as the largest single colony of Rousette Fruit Bat in the Guinness Book of World Records.

But Norma “Nomi” Monfort, founder and president of Monfort Bat Cave and Conservation Foundation, Inc., during Wednesday’s forum at Habi at Kape in Abreeza Mall, said they need to raise about P2 million to materialize the plan to construct the artificial cave within the three-hectare property in Brgy. Tambo, Babak, Island Garden City of Samal (Igacos).

She said that they are going to mount an exhibit dubbed “Art for Bats” featuring the artworks of Alex Alagon, Wayne Forte, and Ina Helmers from to 13 at the Abreeza Ayala Mall’s Corporate Activity Center.

Monfort said their artworks will be up for sale and then the proceeds will be used to build the facility.

She said that Alagon will present premier paintings of the durian flowers “as well as bats portrayed as symbols of motherhood and guardians of the night”; Forte, a relative of the prominent Lacson family in Bacolod City, is an artist based in California who will feature a mural painting of the bat cave; and Helmers, a German artist who creates digitally enhanced bat portraits for bat organizations worldwide.

The art exhibit is being supported by Davao South, North, West, East, Central Rotary Clubs, International Jaycee Senate and Ambassador Club, Davao.

She added that the exhibit is also aimed at changing the perspective of the people who see bats as “ugly and evil” and being feared by many.

“This event will provide the stimulus, support and ispiration to the Davao art community in portraying bats in a positive way, showing what they really are: beautiful and helpful cratures, not evil or demonic as they are generally portrayed,” the statement read.

She added that their artists’ works have been donated to the Philippine Bats for Peace Foundation, Inc..

She said that it is necessary to protect these fruit bats because they serve as night pollinators that contribute big to the fruiting of the Davao Region’s fruit trees such as durian.

“If there’s no bats, you cannot enjoy durian,” she said.

Threats

The bat cave houses about 2.3 million of Rousette fruit bats.

Monfort, however, said that the bats occupy most of the ceiling that many opted to come down to the ground to rest, making them vulnerable to predators such as rats and snakes.

Some bats force their way to claim their spots in the ceiling, disturbing other bats, she said.

Monfort said that many of these bats are found to be pregnant, according to some researchers who visited the bat cave.

She said that the artificial bat cave will have to be integrated with a technology that allows the collection of guano, the bat’s wastes and a potent organic fertilizer, in a way that will not disturb them.

Monfort added that the climate change has adverse effects on bats, although not yet so evident today. But if it worsens, the fruits and insects on which the bats survive will be threatened, also putting the bats in danger, she said.