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No need to fear bats amid ’19 nCoV: conservationist

A known bat conservationist cautioned against fearing the nocturnal creatures as reports of the bat soup being the source of the 2019 novel coronavirus (nCov) continues to circulate.

Monfort Bat Sanctuary owner Norma Monfort insists that even scientists are not 100% certain that the novel coronavirus came from bats.

She conceded that bats do harbor viruses but they do not transmit viruses or cause harm to humans as long as they are not consumed or disrupted.

“They’re very gentle creatures. Only when there is a threat, they will bite and even if they do—when my daughter was bitten (by one)—there were no rabies or anything at all. They’ve lived for so long already (and yet, no cases of viruses). They are just misunderstood,” she said.

These bats, she added, should never be consumed in the first place, along with other exotic animal meat, due to the potential viruses they carry.

Monfort said that people should never eat bats because it can be hard for them to recover their population. The bats only produce one offspring every year, she said.

She is currently campaigning for the conservation of bats due to the existing misconceptions about the creatures. She said that bats should be given due recognition for their contribution to the environment.

Bats, according to her, are responsible for the reforestation in the region since they carry the seeds from the fruits they eat that can lead to the growth of new trees. “Region XI should give due recognition to the bats for being the reason why you can say, Davao, life is here,” she said.

She added, “they are the ones keeping everything green. They are the ones pollinating, eating all the viruses and pests. But they are not given the credit and that’s why I want to campaign.”

The CPR BATS! Conserve Protect Respect BATS! campaign is in line with her advocacy which is to “respect all life and reject violence.”

The campaign is planned to be launched in the middle of the year, through a national summit calling for national solidarity for all stakeholders to come up with one vision.

On the current number of bats, she said that the numbers are rising and they would need a new artificial bat cave for these animals to live.

She added that she is currently finishing the property donation to the Philippine Bats for Peace Foundation for the project to launch.

While the number of visitors in the bat sanctuary in Samal has declined, Monfort said that it is not caused by the epidemic, but by the recent earthquakes and the Taal eruption.

She added that it will bounce back and they will be able to recover.

“The bats will lead the way because they are the symbols of motherhood. They have secrets to share to us for our quest for change,” she said.

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