Intl Bat Conservation Experts Gather For 4-day Confab In Bacolod

About 200 participants from various countries will gather for the 4th International Southeast Asian Bat Conference on Aug. 6-9 at L' Fisher Hotel in this city.

The activity is spearheaded by the Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Foundation Inc. (PBCFI) in partnership with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the provinces of Negros Occidental and Oriental.

Since 2007, three International Southeast Asian Bat Conferences (SEABCO) have been organized, and the Philippines has been chosen as the host on its fourth year.

The Southeast Asian Bat Conservation Research Union (SEABCRU) was established 11 years ago with support from BAT Biodiversity Partnership, to provide an organizational framework to coordinate and implement research, capacity building, and outreach to promote the conservation of Southeast Asia's diverse but threatened bats.

The network is organized around four conservation research priorities: taxonomy and systematics, flying fox conservation, cave-bat conservation, and forest-dependent bat conservation.

The conference includes paper and poster presentations on bat conservation, as well as field trip activity to the Mambukal Resort Bat Sanctuary in Murcia town, which has more than 4,000 bats.

According to the resort's website, three species of flying foxes can be found in the area. These are the golden-crowned flying fox, the large flying fox, and the common island flying fox.

The panelists during the four-day conference are: Dr. Tigga Kingston, associate professor at Texas Tech University, whose researches focus mainly on the diversity and conservation of bats in Southeast Asia and who launched the SEABCRU in 2007; Dr. Tammy Mildenstein, assistant professor of biology at Cornell College, whose studies are concentrated on threatened flying foxes in Southeast Asia and Oceania, and who is the project coordinator of Filipinos for Flying Foxes, a coalition dedicated to promote the conservation of large flying foxes in the Philippines by building the local capacity to implement long-term conservation management and Anson Tagtag, chief of the DENR- Biodiversity Management Bureau, Wildlife Management Section, who has done researches on the molecular evidence of Ebola virus infection in Philippine bats and behavior of the endangered golden-crowned flying fox, and who was instrumental in creating the Regional Flying Fox Monitoring Team.

Other panelists include Lisa Paguntalan, executive director of PBCFI, who specializes in birds and volant mammals, and whose extensive research around the Philippines has led to discoveries of supposedly extinct species such as the cave-dwelling Philippine Bare-backed fruit bat Dobsonia chapmani in Cebu in 2001 and, Dr. Susan M. Tsang, a fellow on AAAS Science and Technology Policy in the Branch of Counter Wildlife Trafficking Strategy and Partnerships in the Division of Management Authority at US Fish and Wildlife Service, whose major research interests are in the biogeography and evolution of Southeast Asian pteropodid bats, particularly of flying foxes.

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