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Mysterious white bat spotted in Samal Island, Davao del Norte explained


By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz

Samal Island in Davao del Norte recently made headlines on social media due to the rare sighting of a “white” bat with pinkish eyes, nose, mouth, and bones.

(Photo courtesy of Didi Gigi Senajonon DS)

(Photo courtesy of Didi Gigi Senajonon DS)

According to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Davao Region, the bat is a Cynopterus brachyotis or also known as the lesser short-nosed fruit bat.

“Like all the other bats, these species are usually brown and black. But due to a genetic anomaly called albinism, its melanin production is altered causing [its] white appearance. This is due to a series of genetic mutations most likely passed from its parents,” the DENR-Davao Region said in a Facebook post.

Despite their rare color aberration, the agency said that albino fruit bats are among the thousands of bat species around the world that hold a significant ecological role.

“In fact, they are one of the key players in the restoration of our forests that have gone through destruction. Through their affinity for several plants and ability to disperse seeds in the vast land of our forests, trees can grow again. No wonder they are tagged as the ‘farmers of the forest,’” the DENR regional office said.

It further explained that these bats rely on plants’ fruits and flowers to survive, while around 500 plant species also depend on them to pollinate their flowers.

These include bananas, mangoes, peaches, guava, agave, and many other fruit trees.

“In Davao, there is no durian… if not for these fruit-eating bats,” the region’s DENR pointed out.

These species of bat is not endemic to the Philippines. They are also found in Sri Lanka, Thailand, the southern part of China, Sulawesi, and Borneo.

The DENR-Davao Region said Samal Island is among the areas in the region that has a diverse ecosystem and is rich in natural resources, making it the “home” of choice to various wildlife species, including bats.

Bats are among the wildlife species protected under Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act, which means that harming or killing them is punishable by law.

Read more: White bat spotted in Samal Island

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