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Bacolod City, Philippines Monday, June 22, 2015
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Mambukal bat haven launched

The Mambukal Resort Bat Sanctuary was launched during the opening of the 19 th Mudpack Festival at Mambukal Resort in Barangay Minoyan, Murcia, Negros Occidental Saturday, for the preservation of these animals.

Lisa Paguntalan, regional director of the Philippine Biodiversity Conservation Foundation Inc., said this will greatly help protect the bats and the environment. Since many people come here, they will learn many things about how important bats are.

Bats are pollinators and seed dispersers. If you protect their roosting sites, this will greatly help increase their population, as well as increase the tree population in the forest, she said.

Paguntalan said this is the first Golden Crown Flying Fox roost sanctuary that was officially established in the Philippines, particularly in Region 6 (now Region 18).

There are two endangered species of bats in Mambukal, the Golden Crowned Flying Fox, which is one of the three flying foxes seen roosting in the trees, and the Philippine Tubenose Fruit Bat, which can be found in Negros and Cebu. The Golden Crown Flying Fox can only be seen in Palawan, she said.

There are four kinds of fruit-eating bats in Mambukal, that include the Golden Little Mantle Flying Fox, Paguntalan said.

The average bat population in Mambukal ranges from 7,500 to 8,000, while local tour guides and the staff of Mambukal Resort have been monitoring the number of bats for the last five years, she said.

Paguntalan said Mambukal Resort has shown its commitment in protecting these bats that can only be found here.

“These bats are not ‘aswangs (vampires)' but are vegetarian and the gardeners of our forests. They are actually our friends,” she said.

A big flying fox can fly 50 kilometers in one night just to look for food, Paguntalan said. These flying foxes are protected under Republic Act 9147 and poachers of Golden Crown Flying Fox can be meted a penalty of P50,000 to P100,000 if caught, she said.

Mambukal Resort manager Ellen Marie Jalandoni said the bats feel very safe in Mambukal. But when they started, there were poachers around who would shoot them down to eat their meat.

Jalandoni said they do not allow these activities anymore so they asked for the help of people around to help protect the bats and the conservation efforts they implemented for several years finally paid off.

They also trained local guides with the help of sectors like the Philippine Biodiversity Conservation Foundation Inc., and the Negros   Forests   and Ecological   Foundation   Biodiversity Conservation Center, that are educating the visitors to help them appreciate these bats, Jalandoni said.*CGS



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