𝑩𝒂𝒏𝒊𝒔𝒊𝒍𝒂𝒏’𝒔 𝑭𝒍𝒚𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝑭𝒐𝒙𝐞𝐬
The DENR-12 Regional Strategic Communication and Initiatives Group (RSCIG) went to the far-flung area where the Flying Fox Bats thrive. Taking into consideration the area’s confidentiality, the team guided by Senior Biologist Andrew Ross Reintar of the Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Foundation, Inc. (PBCFI) carefully traversed the forest to document the thriving population of the said flying mammals with the help of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) Midsayap, the area’s barangay local government unit (BLGU) key officials, and the Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office (MENRO) of Banisilan.
CENRO Midsayap regularly conducted monitoring activities of newly-discovered roosting sites of flying foxes to asses the area and the possible threats toward the flying mammals. It was found that there are three kinds of flying foxes that thrive in the snags of trees namely the Island Flying Fox (Pteropus hypomelanus), the Large Flying Fox (Pteropus vampyrus), and the endemic Golden-Crowned Flying Fox (Acerodon jubatus), known to be critically endangered under the Philippine Red List. The data gathered by the monitoring team suggested that the sightings of the flying foxes were more or less 50,000-60,000 bats for which there is a significant number of the endemic Golden-Crowned Flying Fox of about 1,500.
In an interview with the Punong Barangay, the wildlife species were not originally living in the area, but in a neighboring barangay of Municipality of Alamada. Upon knowing that flying foxes were settling in the area, the BLGU declared an Ordinance for the protection of the flying mammals as well as their habitat.
Many locals and other people still have misconceptions about the Flying Fox Bats or locally termed Kabog as other people believe they bring bad omen to those who come face to face with these organisms. Andrew Ross Reintar, Senior Bioligist of the Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Foundation, Inc. (PBCFI) emphasized the significance of the species of bats found in the area as they are natural tree planters, and play an important role in preserving plant diversity by carrying and pollinating seeds of plants from one place to another, they are the source of the exchange of genetic diversity.
“These flying fox bats also help control pests, they are our friends. The Golden flying foxes are also lumads or natives as they are only found in the Philippines. The BLGU should know the significance of these mammals by gathering information through research and by educating the people about the species, lobbying the protection in the area through many platforms of the BLGU, or the LGU and DENR in their critical habitats, there should be a clear policy as well as IEC campaign to eradicate the misconceptions on these organisms.” Reintar said.
With the recent COVID-19, bushmeat trade and hunting of these are not allowed through the efforts of LGU and the enforcement led by the barangay tanod. By policy, it is prohibited to consume Flying Fox Bats as they may be possible carriers of diseases. Not only from the flying foxes but it could happen the other way around if people get in touch with them improperly.
Antonio Calonge, Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Officer (MENRO) of Banisilan said that the LGU pushes for a balanced ecosystem by preserving the flying mammals as the spreaders of plant seeds. “Protektahan natin ang ating kalikasan” (Let us protect our environment) as what MENRO Calonge emphasized in his interview.
In support, the Brgy. Captain said in his interview that the BLGU is upholding activities such as tree-planting and seminars about the significance of the Flying Fox Bats in the area and the possible sanctions to those who continue and wish to hunt the flying mammals.
CENRO Midsayap also continues to monitor and assess the existence of these flying foxes and partners with other civic organizations such as the Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Foundation, Inc. (PBCFI) to secure their existence and maintain their vital role in our ecosystem.
The PBCFI helps the LGU, DENR, and other agencies from research to IEC campaigns, through policy development and, management of protection and conservation of species and habitat. They do not only partner with CENRO Midsayap, but also with PENRO Cotabato, and the DENR-12.
Cotabato’s Flying Foxes are proof that deep in the remaining forests of Mindanao, there are still precious gems hidden not in a form of stones or other elements of the Earth. Like what one of the locals emphasized to the RSCIG team, “Halungan ang kalasangan kag ang mga kabog kay sila ang aton kayamanan dire” (Let’s take care of our forests and the Flying Fox Bats because they are our treasures). We, as dwellers of this planet, could do so much by taking part in this initiative. | RSCIGJ