Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Two Philippine Fruit Bat Species on the Verge of Extinction

Giant golden-crowned flying fox

In the province of Negros Oriental in the Philippines, there has been deep and fearful concern about two types of fruit bats becoming extinct due to uncontrolled human activities and poaching. They are the Negros chevenous fruit bat, and the golden flying fox. Both of these bats have been identified as sources of food for the local people in areas, such as Valencia and Barangay Enrique Villanueva in Sibulan where they thrive because of the availability of fruits and flowers. The people have been known to catch these bats using nets and traps known locally as "balag-ong." This practice has been known to occur during the fruit-bearing season native fruit trees. According to Pol Carino, a wildlife advocate and an environmentalist, he learned about the illegal poaching of these bats during a lanzones season in Valencia. He was also deeply saddened about the animals' situation, and hopes that the PNP (Philippine National Police) will intensify its monitoring and law enforcements towards such illicit activities. In addition to that, other wildlife species threatened to extinction in the province include the Negros bleeding heart pigeon and the Negros forest frog. Of these two species, the forest frog is perceived as forest indicator, in which its presence is seen as proof that a forest is healthy and still growing.

I'm also saddened about the fate of these two fruit bat species. Both of these species, like other fruit bats, are known to play a vital role in the forest ecosystem in which they promote seed dispersal. That is, when they eat fruits, the seeds are digested out of their bodies which in turn transform into the trees of that particular fruit. If the bats disappear, then other wildlife species in Negros Oriental will too. And the forest frog is one of them. Without it, scientists, researchers, and nature lovers will not be able to tell whether a forest is healthy or not. I also feel that just hoping what the police will do regarding this environmental catastrophe will not help. It is best to establish research and rescue centers for these fruit bats, especially those who have been orphaned. This method has been done in Australia's Northern Territory where fruit bats are viewed as nuisance in local fruit farmers. If Australia can do it, then Philippines can too.

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