Flying Foxes – Subic Bay on the Philippines

Steve Brown asked me to post the following to raise awareness of the problems Flying Foxes face on the Philippines. If you would like more information please email him at

I am an American that has visited a number of the Philippine islands. Subic Bay, which is no more than three hours from Manila, and easily accessible by public transportation on good roads, is one of the last virgin lowland rain forests in southeast Asia. There is a colony of giant flying fox bats, the largest bats in the world, and a variety of other bat species. The number of flying fox bats has been greatly reduced, perhaps more than 98% from their numbers not that many decades ago. Hundreds of the bats can be seen in the daytime roosting on a few select trees that at present are alongside a well paved road. At dusk, when they leave the trees to search for food, they are a magnificent sight to behold, as they fill the sky. Unfortunately, they are still being hunted, even though their numbers are greatly reduced.And the fruit trees on which they rely are decreasing. It is easy to arrange for one of the Aetas people- an indigenous people that live in and near the forest-to guide one through the forest to see other animals. Guides are available by going to the main entrance point into the Subic Bay forest, which can easily be reached by a taxi or other forms of transportation. By employing the Aetas as guides, and making it known in general that the protection of Subic Bay and all of its trees, bats and wildlife is an important source of tourism and interest , a strong message is sent as to the importance of preserving this unique virgin rain forest. The one species of monkey in the Philippines can easily be spotted from Subic Bay.

The Philippines in general is a good location for spotting a variety of marine mammals. There are locations in the islands of Bohol and Negros where it is practically guaranteed that one will see spinner dolphins on whale watching tours and a chance of seeing other marine mammals. There are other locations where there is a good chance of seeing Irrawaddy dolphins, which I have seen in the Philippines. Du gongs, though rare, inhabit some of the coastal waters on some islands. Many species of whales and dolphins pass through the waters of the Philippines. I have met people that have spotted pygmy sperm whales, false killer whales, and a variety of other species. The Philippines is also a good location from which to make trips into Borneo. I think it is vital to support conservation efforts in the Philippines, because the remaining forests, corral reefs, and other wild areas are under great distress. There are many species of birds, mammals,and other wildlife that are endemic to these islands, and that face extinction.

1 Comment

  • Morgan Churchill

    If those marine mammals are not enticing enough, there are rumors of an undescribed pygmy Fin Whale which occurs in this area as well.

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