Did you know that the largest colony of fruit bats in the world is found in the Philippines? Yes! The Guinness World Record holder of such title is the MONFORT BAT CAVE located in the Island Garden City of Samal, an island city in the Province of Davao del Norte, Mindanao. This is the first stop of OLANOLOGY'S Samal Island Ultimate Adventure attended by 20 equally adventurous Bloggers and outdoors fanatics organized by yours truly in response to the "Visit Samal Island" summer campaign of the Island Garden City of Samal and the DOT-Region XI Office.
The Monfort Bat Cave also known as the Monfort Bat Cave and Conservation Foundation Park is a 24-hectare property owned by the Monfort Family located in Barangay Tambo, Babak District of the Island Garden City of Samal.
According to the early island settlers, the Monfort Bat Cave is just one of the 70 caves that can be found in the whole Island. Many years ago, the 70 caves of the Island were homes and shelter to the different bat colonies coming from different places in the Region. When rapid migration and growing population of the people in the Island gradually flourished, it became a huge threat to the devastation of these caves and the bats living inside it. Bat hunting became rampant. Bats became human food consumption worst a living. Slowly, it resulted to the decreasing of numbers of bats living in the caves.
During the World War II, the Japanese Forces used some caves in the island for their shelter and shield against their enemies. This too has contributed mass devastation of bat colonies in the caves. Sadly, the caves that were supposed to be their sanctuary became a trap for the destruction.
Today, among the 70 caves of Samal Island, only few remains inhabited by huge colonies of bats and one of those is the Monfort Bat Cave in Barangay Tambo of Babak District. Monfort Bat Cave becomes very substantial and year after year the growing number of bats dwelling in the cave increases significantly. The Monfort Family leads the preservation of these bats and spearheads the conservation and protection of these colonies in the Island.
In 2008, upon the Monfort’s persistent campaign, representatives from the Guinness World Record visited the cave to determine the specie and number of bats dwelling in the caves. It was found out that it is the specie of Geoffrey’s Rousette Fruit Bat that lives in Monfort Bat Cave. Surprisingly, it was discovered that their colony inside the cave is estimated to be of 1.8 million. With this enormous number, Monfort Bat Cave is a certified Guiness World Record holder that houses the largest colony of fruit bats. Yes, Monfort Bat Cave is a Guinness World Record holder!
One may ask why must protect these creatures. You see, the presence of fruit bats is very essential in our ecology. These bats eat various fruits and in the process, they distribute seeds in our forest and in the wilds. The process is called pollination. This significantly resulted to the increase of trees and seedlings in our forests. For this reason, Monfort Bat Cave and Conservation Foundation is dedicated for the protection of the bats in the area.
This year, it is estimated that the number bats inside the Monfort Cave increases to 2.4 million. This great increase has inspired the Monforts to continue its mission to protect these nocturnal mammals. They are now starting to improve their facilities and soon turn the whole area into an eco-park that will focus on the bat conservation and further research.
MONFORT BAT CAVE is truly a great pride of the Island Garden City of Samal. A great place worth to visit. After all, who wouldn’t, it is a Guinness World Record holder.
HOW TO GET THERE:
From Davao City, take an Island Express Bus going to Samal Island then drop off Babak District. From Babak, take a single motorcycle (habal-habal) going to Barangay Tambo where Monfort Bat Cave is situated. No worries, all Samal Folks and habal-habal drivers knows the place.