On Boracay Island in the Philippines, flying foxes are an important part of the ecosystem because their feeding habits disperse and pollinate seeds throughout the island. Unfortunately, these friendly fruit bats are threatened with extinction due to hunting and diminishing food resources. To recognize the importance of the flying foxes on Bat Appreciation Day, we’re highlighting Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort & Spa’s efforts to help save the species from extinction.
Since 2009, the resort has planted fruit trees to increase the flying foxes’ food supply. In 2015, the hotel surpassed its goal of planting 50 trees by planting a combined 65 papaya, calamansi, mango and guava trees. This year, the hotel has a goal to plant 60 fruit trees, including neem, guava and banana.
The resort also offers regular activities that educate guests about flying foxes. During the resort’s bi-weekly Nature Trail Tour, guests can walk to a lookout point to view the flyout after sunset, and children can take home their own plush flying foxes in the form of the resort’s mascot, Nikki.
Every year, the Friends of the Flying Foxes, a non-profit organization that protects the natural habitat of the flying foxes, organizes an event to count the bats using the flyout method. The number of flying foxes is estimated by counting bats in each participant’s assigned section as they fly out to forage for food. According to past counts, the number of flying foxes has increased from 1,709 in 2012 to 2,238 in 2014. Participants from all resorts, hotels and other establishments on Boracay Island are encouraged to participate. About 15 volunteers from Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort & Spa participate in the count every year. The resort will celebrate Earth Day on April 22 by conducting the first flyout count of 2015.