The Tabuk Marine Park and Wildlife Sanctuary is a mangrove, fish and bird sanctuary located at Tabuk Island, just a short distance (about 10 minutes pumpboat ride) from the shores of the town of Palompon in the province of Leyte.
At the northwest side of the mangrove forest, at the section dubbed by locals as the “Bat Kingdom,” one would find thousands of sleeping giant fruit bats hanging upside down atop the mangrove trees.
Authorities have identified five different species of fruit-eating bats inhabiting the island. This includes the Giant Golden-Crowned Flying Fox (Acerodon jubatus) – a rare fruit bat considered the largest known bat in the world. The species is endangered and is currently facing the possibility of extinction due to poachers and food hunters. They are endemic to the Philippines.
Just before sunset, one can witness hordes of bats taking off from the island, flying out to far distant places to begin their nocturnal hunt for food. They would return to the island shortly after daybreak the following day.
These giant fruit bats have been cited for their major role in rainforest conservation and fruit trees propagation, thus earning the monicker, “The Silent Planters.” This they do via their natural droppings of seeds as they fly and cover long distances.
I cannot say for certain, however, that the photos here are those of the Giant Golden-Crowned Flying Fox.
But these, for sure, are huge bats!
The Municipality of Palompon is in the province of Leyte, Philippines. It is 124 kilometers from Tacloban City, the Leyte provincial capital, and 66 kilometers from Ormoc City, Leyte. There are regular boat trips from Cebu City, 72 nautical miles away.