The Monfort Bat Cave located inside the Monfort Eco Park at Brgy. Tambo, Babak District was our last stop during our visit to the Island Garden City of Samal (IGACOS.) The cave provides shelter to an approximately 1.8 million of bats, which has been recognized by The Guinness Book of Records on February 2010 as the world’s largest colony of fruit bats-Geoffroy’s rousette fruit bats (Rousettus amplexicaudatus.)
I have never seen such an immense number of bats. The 1000-foot long cave is overflowing with what looked like to be millions of fruit bats that are cramped very closely together hanging upside down, coating the large walls of the caves. There doesn’t seem to be enough space to accommodate all of them. Some are continously flying, probably looking for a space, while several others are seen clinging out in the open so close to the ground.
The cave has five openings which allows the visitors to take a peek inside. These openings are surrounded by bamboo rails. Loud noises are strictly prohibited and visitors are not allowed to go inside the cave as these would elicit disturbance that may cause young bats to be dropped to their deaths.
The fruit bats have been around Samal island for generations now, which used to dwell in the almost 70 other underground caves in the island. Farmers however, blaming the bats for devouring their crops, used to hunt and kill them which drove the bats to seek refuge inside the Monfort bat cave. The hunting only stopped when a scientist who visited the island explained that only these fruit bats can adequately pollinate the flowers of the trees, especially the durian trees in Davao province, making them produce more fruits. Currently, the number of bats nesting inside the Monfort Bat Cave is estimated to have reached more than 2 millions and is still rising significantly with the female bats almost continuously pregnant all year round. The sanctuary is being preserved and protected by the owner herself Norma Monfort with the support of the residents and the local government.
How to Get There: At Magsaysay Park in Davao City, hop on the Island Express Bus going to Samal Island ask the driver/bus conductor to drop you off Babak District. From Babak, look for a habal habal driver to take you to the Monfort Bat cave in Barangay Tambo.
Fares and Fees Per Head: Entrance fee: P40.00, Island City Bus Fare: P30.00, Habal Habal: P20.00