ILOILO CITY -- The dwelling of fruit bats in the urban center of Miag-ao town, Iloilo is being eyed as an additional tourist attraction.
About 10, 000 fruit bats found refuge in the trees scattered around the municipality. Most of them dwell in a Bubog tree (Sterculia foetida) near the town hall and the municipal plaza.
Municipal mayor Dr. Macario Napulan, in an interview on Sunday, said the local government unit will establish a watchtower deck overlooking the fruit bats.
Napulan said the watchtower will be realized this year as it is included in the town’s 2019 budget.
Tourists can take photographs of the fruit bats through the watchtower deck, which will be established within the municipal hall premises, he said.
The bats used to dwell in a century-old Balete tree (Ficus) behind the municipal hall. They transferred shelter when the old Balete tree died.
“The Balete tree was not able to handle the growing population of the bats,” Napulan said.
From an estimated 300 in the past years, the number of fruit bats has increased because it was protected by the land owner where the Balete tree stood.
The fruit bats are considered as the town’s pride thus, it was never disturbed by the locals.
Fruit bats namely the Common Island Flying Fox, the Large Flying Fox, and the Golden Crowned Flying Fox fly over the town from 5:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. has become a usual scenario, the mayor said.
“It is their routine. At night, they will scatter to look for fruits around the town especially in the mountains,” he said.
Citing the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Napulan said the dwelling of bats in the municipal premises proves that Miag-ao has “unpolluted” and “peaceful” environment.
He said the fruit bats finding a safe place to sleep in the town is a good example of wildlife conservation.
He also assured that the mammals do not cause any harm to the municipality. (PNA)