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World's Largest Bat Sanctuary
« on: February 07, 2010, 04:46:07 PM »
By Jeffrey M. Tupas
Inquirer Mindanao

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The Guinness World Records has recognized the bat sanctuary in the Island Garden City of Samal (Igacos) as the world's largest for any colony of Geoffrey's Rousette Fruit Bat (Rousetteus amplexicaudatus), a conservationists’ group said.

Conservationists here and abroad said this recognition highlighted efforts to save one of the country's most hated and misunderstood creatures.

The Texas-based Bat Conservation International has described the colony as among the few known to scientists.

"If the wonder of nature still exists, then the bats at Monfort Cave are one of the very few left on Earth, particularly in the Philippines," the BCI said in a report released in 2006.

Mariamarta Ruano-Graham, head of the records management team of Guinness, said in a letter addressed to Norma Monfort, head of the Monfort Bat Cave and Conservation Foundation, Inc., that they took notice of the BCI estimate of 1.8 million bats living in the cave inside the 24-hectare property owned by Monfort in Barangay Tambo in Igacos.

Graham said Guinness was "pleased to inform that you have set a new Guinness World Records…and a certificate to commemorate this is included."

"Although the certificate does not automatically guarantee an entry in our world-famous annual record, we do consider all new records for inclusion in future Guinness World Records publication and products," Graham said in her letter dated February 1.

Happy for the recognition of their efforts to save the bats inside the sanctuary, Monfort said the Guiness citation highlighted their role in protecting biodiversity.

"The role of bats in the environment and the ecosystem has been so understudied and undervalued, that you will be amazed to know that the diversity of many exotic fruits coming from the Davao region, such as the durian, has been scientifically attributed to bats as major pollinators," Monfort said.

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