BCI's effort to halt the dramatic decline of Philippine bats was launched in 2006, when pending land-use laws threatened a critical cave-dwelling bat colony. The cave's owner, Norma Monfort, whose family had protected the bats for generations, urgently requested BCI assistance to save her cave and its bats. BCI visited the site and discovered a great colony of about 1.8 million Geoffroy's rousette fruit bats. A BCI assessment of area caves revealed catastrophic declines in cave-dwelling bats. After years of hunting and disturbances, many caves had few, if any, surviving bats.
"If the wonder of nature still exists, then the bats in Samal at Monfort Cave is one of the very few left on earth, particularly in the Philippines."
With BCI’s assistance, a coalition of local government and organization partners joined Norma in preserving her stewardship of the cave. BCI helped launch continuing education, conservation and research initiatives that are blossoming into self-sustaining regional and national bat-conservation efforts. The Monfort Bat Cave has become a major platform for bat conservation and was formally recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2010 as the World's Largest Colony of Geoffroy's Rousette Fruit Bats – a testament to the power of even a single person with a commitment to conservation.
Unfortunately, most other Philippine caves are unprotected, and many are seriously threatened. In response to these threats, the Philippine Department of the Environment and Natural Resources passed the Cave Conservation Act. But a lack of funding has delayed implementation of the Act.
BCI's Philippines Initiative is led by Dr. Dave Waldien and based in our Austin, Texas, headquarters. On-the-ground efforts are directed and implemented through trusted conservation partners, and our alliance is expanding each year.
To initiate a self-sustaining bat research, education and conservation program in the Philippines, specifically for threatened and largely neglected cave-bat habitats.
BCI's strategy for this new program is evolving, but it emphasizes working with and through local partners. It currently includes:
• Targeted training, symposia, educational materials and outreach programs that support enhanced decision-making and public awareness.
• Applied and adaptive management and conservation of cave roosts of fruit bats and insectivorous bats that play important ecological and economic roles for Filipinos.
• Supporting targeted research to expand human understanding of the value of Philippine bats to humans and ecosystems in order to improve management and conservation actions.