By Maya M. Padillo
DAVAO CITY — Don’t call her Batwoman, although like the DC Comics character, she is a kind of heroine — one who advocates environmental awareness and a culture of peace through the promotion of bats and their role in the ecosystem.
Norma I. Monfort, known hereabouts as the Bat Mama, is preparing to raise funds to build a bat “chiropterium,” an artificial cave that is intended to address the overcrowding at the Monfort Bat Sanctuary in the Island Garden City of Samal.
The Monfort Bat Cave is now home to about 2.5 million Geoffroy’s rousette bats (Rousettus amplexicaudatus), a specie under the Old World fruit bats or megabats.
The site, one of Samal’s main tourist stops, was logged in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2010 as the biggest colony of Geoffrey’s Rousette fruit bats.
Ms. Monfort said the bat population has now become very dense for the 23-hectare cave, which prompts the need to build a chiropterium
“This is the artificial bat cave I am talking about since 2011 because the bat colony keeps exploding and there is no space… we have so many bat caves around Samal and the (Davao) Region, but these bats won’t transfer,” Ms. Monfort said in an interview.
About P2 million is needed for the man-made cave, which she intends to pattern after a similar ongoing project in Texas.
“They’re waiting for me to see it in Texas and I would like to build that since I have the land already to alleviate the overcrowding of the bats,” Ms. Monfort said.
An American organization, she added, has expressed its intent to help her raise the money.
Ms. Monfort is also planning to use as a fund-raising activity the Sunrise Run for Love, Peace and Awareness on March 19 in Davao City. The fun run is part of Ms. Monfort’s various activities for her now 16-year campaign, which she calls Elevated Battitude.
“This change for climate, I have my youth ambassadors helping me to tap barangays and schools about the need to have a shift, to start awareness. My campaign is elevating awareness about bats because they are very important to help mitigate climate change by reforestation, and also the culture of peace,” she said.
In this year’s fun run, Ms. Monfort is partnering with the Team Titans of Davao for the whole day event, which will have 3K, 7K, and 10K categories. There will also be booths and games at the Rizal Park.
In her Web site, monfortbatsanctuary.org, Ms. Monfort wrote: “As Bat Mama, I refer to them (bats) as the unsung heroes, my ‘Angels of the Night.’ As humanity sleeps soundly rain or shine each night, these angels fly out in darkness and in harm’s way to forage for food. While doing so, they perform an invaluable service — maintaining the ecology on which we are all dependent on.”