Media & Education
BATS Magazine

Volume 37, Issue 3, 2018

A Conservation Dialogue

Sustainable tourism in Southeast Asia


There is no doubt that it takes many hands to implement sustainable conservation practices. Researchers, land owners, NGOs and government departments all have a role to play to promote bat conservation—especially in tourism-heavy regions like Southeast Asia. This past August, BCI traveled to the Philippines to meet with partners on the front lines and witness these conservation dialogues firsthand.

Jon Flanders and Mylea Bayless met with past and present BCI student scholars.
Courtesy of Jon Flanders/BCI

First stop was the 4th Southeast Asian Bat Conference on the of island Negros, Philippines. Hosted by the Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Foundation (PBCFI), the conference served as a forum for over 250 participants to network, collaborate and discuss ongoing bat research and conservation projects. At the conference, BCI International Program Manager Jon Flanders and Director of Network and Partnerships Mylea Bayless hosted a grant application workshop for students interested in applying for BCI’s Student Research Scholarship for Global Bat Conservation Priorities. In addition, BCI presented highlights of some of the organization’s international cave conservation work.

“The conference was a great opportunity for us to see all the incredible work being carried out for bat conservation across Southeast Asia. It was especially gratifying to meet so many current and former BCI scholars, find out how they are progressing in their careers, and hear all about their conservation success stories. BCI is incredibly proud to play a small part in the work they are doing, and we look forward to funding more student scholars—including the future leaders of Southeast Asian bat conservation,” says Jon Flanders.

After the conference concluded, BCI and PBCFI traveled to several sites to observe how eco-tourism resorts balance the pressure of tourism with protecting wildlife. Previously, PBCFI has worked closely with the resorts to ensure that the resident bat populations are not overly disturbed and have trained locals to carry out regular flying fox counts.

Afterward, BCI traveled to the Monfort Bat Sanctuary—home to the world’s largest known population of Geoffrey’s Rousette fruit bats—to meet with the property’s owner, Norma Monfort. Since 2006, BCI has worked with Monfort to help her retain ownership of the site and protect the approximately 1.8 million bats living in the cave.

“We are proud of our partners’ work in the Philippines and believe the conservation we’ve done together to protect flying foxes and promote sustainable tourism at the Monfort Bat Cave are true models for working within the entire Southeast Asia Region,” says Mylea Bayless.

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