Nearly a quarter of the bats in Southeast Asia are either threatened or near threatened, causing a greater probability of extinction, Dr. Tigga Kingston of Southeast Asian Bat Conservation Research Unit, said at a press conference in Bacolod City yesterday.
The press conference held by SEABCRU is in line with 4 th Southeast Asian Bat Conference in cooperation with the Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Foundation Inc., that opened yesterday at L’Fisher Hotel and will run until Thursday.
“It is very urgent to conserve these bats,” Kingston said.
The organization highlighted the importance and the need for enhancement in bat conservation, as well as discussing the high biodiversity of bats in the country and in the province, since they said it is a “biodiversity heritage and should be preserved”.
Bats help in the pollination, seed dispersal up to hundreds of kilometers, forest restoration, pest control since they eat insects, and their poop serve as natural fertilizer.
“Twenty three percent of all the bats in the region are either already threatened or very close to a threatened status. There’s a much greater probability that they will go extinct unless we change what’s happening to them now,” Kingston said.
Out of the 1,370 plus species of bats around the world, around 30 percent or 379 species are found in Southeast Asia.
Malaysia had 133 species, Vietnam has 123, Thailand-143, Myanmar-100, Indonesia-236, Singapore -28, while the Philippines had 79, with 38 endemic ones, as reported by each country’s representative.
In Negros “we have 14 species of fruit eating bats and we have 36 to 38 insect eating bats,” PBCFI Executive Director Lisa Paguntalan said.
She said the Philippines need chiropterologists to focus on the identification and discovery of other species of bats in the country, and eventually increase also the number of recorded bat species the country has.
Protecting forests and natural habitats of these bats, and stopping illegal logging activities are one of the many ways we can conserve the bats, Kingston said.
SEABCRU also encouraged Filipinos to be proud of the diversity and conservation going on in the country, with Kingston saying that she has not “experienced a government group like DENR anywhere else in Southeast Asia that is so fully committed to bat conservation.”
Anson Tatag, Biodiversity Management Bureau Chief of the Department of Natural Resources – Wildlife Management Section, assured that DENR will continue with their work by creating a management plan on bat conservation.
“Because of this recognition, we will continue to work on bat conservation. We are going to develop a management plan so that we’ll be guided and we will have a rubric on what activities to be undertaken and there’s a measure of how we are progressing throughout the years,” Tagtag said.
With Kingston, Paguntalan, and Tagtagwere SEABCRU’s Dr. Tammy Mildenstein, Dr. Paul Racey, and country representatives from Singapore, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia.*JAB
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