29 February 2016

Bat population down; SBMA, Subic locators to the rescue

With the dwindling number of the biggest flying bats roosting here, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and locators inside this premier Freeport are doing everything they can to protect this species from habitat loss.

SBMA Chairman Robert Garcia said that the agency plans to conduct a bat-count on the population roosting at the Cubi area. He added that the count is currently at around 10,000 to 12,000 and hopes to further increase the number through a study of their roosting habits.

The ecology center of the SBMA has made studies on the number of bats that used to count to hundreds of thousands. They said that the bats used to roost to a higher location nearer to where they are now, beside the road near the Subic Bay International Airport (SBIA).

Considered as one of the biggest species of bats, these fruit bats or flying foxes have lived inside the Freeport Zone even before it was a US naval base. The number of these majestic flying foxes has dwindled since most of them have found other roosting areas in adjacent provinces or have been hunted for their meat.

Meanwhile, the non-government agency Wildlife In Need (WIN) recently held a fundraising event at the El Kabayo Stables. The fundraising event hoped to boost funds for the preservation of the animals here.

One of these animal species are the fruit bats. According to WIN President Gail Laule, they plan to conduct their own study of these animals and find out how to raise the number back to more than a hundred thousand.

Dubbed as “Unbridled at El Kabayo,” the fundraising event enjoined numerous locators inside the Freeport to donate money to provide food, shelter and medical care for the animals here. The agency also has a rescue center that helps animals who are injured and in need of medical care.

Laule said that the proceeds made from the event would also help these rescued animals, bringing them back to health and reintroducing them back to the wilderness. “Last year, we raised enough money to do some critical renovations of our macaque (monkey) enclosure so that they have a more comfortable home,” she added.

The event featured a horse riding and jumping exhibition, a parade of rescued animals, educational information of what the agency do, and other fun activities for the attendees.

With the number of tourists frequenting Subic Bay Freeport and the number of companies investing, it is really no wonder that most of the wildlife here are being disturbed and in desperate need of attention. The vast fauna of this Freeport is really one of the reasons why people visit Subic Bay. (Jonas Reyes, Manila Bulletin)

THIS SIDE UP — Considered one of the biggest bats in the world, these fruit bats characteristically hang upside down their cages after being rescued and treated for various injuries and infections. The bats were presented during the ‘Unbridled at El Kabayo’ fund-raising event at Subic Bay Freeport recently to raise awareness and support for rescued animals under the care of the Wildlife in Need (WIN) rescue facility. (Jonas Reyes)