Rare large bat species spotted 1st time in Rizal’s Masungi Georeserve

Rare large bat species Rizal’s Masungi Georeserve
The Luzon-endemic mottle-winged flying fox has been spotted for the first time within the Masungi landscape in Rizal. Photo from Masungi Georeserve.

The rare large bat species mottle-winged flying fox has been spotted for the first time in the Masungi Georeserve landscape of Rizal province.

The sighting of the mottle-winged flying fox (Desmalopex leucopterus), one of the largest bats in the world, was recorded by expedition project lead Mariah Dichoso and mammals expert Joel Sarmiento during a research expedition within the Masungi landscape.

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The flying fox is endemic to Luzon and belongs to a genus of bats that can only be seen in the Philippines.

“First in the Rizal province! It is characterized by its medium to pale brown wings with white blotches, particularly on the foremost edge of the wing and around the wingtip. It is because of their appearance that looks like a fox that they were named Flying Foxes,” the conservation site announced.

The existence of the rare bat in the Masungi landscape was confirmed together with 11 new records of bat species during the second leg of research expeditions in the area. The team was able to record 21 bat species in total, six of which are fruit-eating bats, while 15 are insect-eating.

The Masungi research expedition’s Dichoso said the discovery of the flying fox in the area was significant because it shows that the conservation site was well-protected.

“It says a lot about Masungi to see this type of flying fox as it tends to forage in smaller groups and in cluttered canopies to lessen their exposure to predators. There is an abundance of food resources found in Masungi which the flying foxes use as a foraging site. This indicates Masungi is protected and has a healthy forest within its borders,” Dichoso said in a report released by Masungi Georeserve on August 20, 2022.

The Masungi Georeserve in Rizal is home to hundreds of species of flora and fauna, including the land snail subspecies discovered by scientists from the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), and the endemic Amorphophallus rostratus flower species, one of the world’s tallest flowers, as well as limestone formations in the area.

The award-winning conservation area in Rizal has won first place at the inaugural global Water ChangeMaker Awards and earned recognition from organizations IUCN and the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), among others.

This year, Filipino forest rangers from the Masungi Georeserve Foundation bagged a global conservation award for their continuing efforts to protect the Upper Marikina Watershed from threats such as illegal encroachment and destruction.

SEND CHEERS in the comments below to Masungi Georeserve’s conservationists and researchers for spotting the rare mottle-winged flying fox, one of the largest bats in the world, in Rizal province.

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Margo is a voracious reader - some might even say she reads too much for her own good. She majored in BS Psychology and hopes to become a forensic psychologist one day. She’s also an aspiring writer, mental health advocate, and a staunch believer of equality.