This was the first time the Philippines hosted the international conference with more than 150 delegates from around the world.
Dr. Tigga Kingston, SEABCRU coordinator in a press conference said they were delighted to come to the Philippines where bat diversity is incredible as well as the bat conservation efforts led by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
"People come here for the conference and they come here to work with researchers, conservation groups and biologists. I have not encountered a government group like DENR, anywhere else in Southeast Asia that is so passionate about bat conservation," Kingston added.
Anson Tagtag, chief of the Wildlife Management Section of the DENR-Environmental Management Bureau said the conference is very important to highlight the conservation and the need to strengthen and enhance the bat conservation in the Philippines, adding that the results of the discussions during the conference are welcomed inputs to government efforts toward bat conservation.
Studies on bats show that there are 1370 species of bats in the world; of which, 379 species are found in Southeast Asia while 52 fruit eating bats and insect eating bats are found in Negros Occidental.
Meanwhile, Lisa Paguntalan, executive director of the Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Foundation Inc., one of the partners of the conference said they are delighted to hold the conference in Negros Island, thus, bringing the attention of Southeast Asia and the global community on the importance of bats not only in the Philippines but specifically to this island region.
However, Kingston also disclosed that more than a fifth of the bat population in the Southeast Asian region are threatened or close to threatened.
"It is very urgent," Kingston said referring to conservation of bats as an integral part of the ecosystem in maintaining its balance acting as pollinators, seed dispersal agents and controlling insect-pests.
According to Kingston, the target of this group (SEABCRU), is to provide organizational framework to coordinate and implement research, capacity building, and outreach and involve more people working on bats so we can keep an eye to the population. (LTP/EAD-PIA6 Negros Occidental)