In Search of Batman: Amazing Bats of Sibuyan

The second of Awesome Ottawa's two January awards goes to James Alvarez, who lives in the Philippines, to spread his love of bats there.

James’ project is an exploration of the world of bats on Sibuyan Island, including the Philippine tube-nosed fruit bat — found nowhere else in the world but a few Philippine islands. “This bat is unique among all other Philippine bats,” James explains. “The looks, the face, the coloration. And at an angle, it looks a lot like Shrek!”

With support from Awesome Ottawa, James will document these and other bats on the island. “We will also discover amazing things about their lives,” he says. “What they eat, where they feed, and the role they play in the forest.”

James also wants to introduce the bats to the residents. “Locally,” he explains, “bats are perceived as evil, and I'd like to change that attitude. One way is to present to the people how diverse they are and how helpful they are to humans.” He will produce materials to educate people about the bats in their area, and conduct a short training to teach them to find bats, identify them, and plan for programs to protect them and their habitat.

“In the long term,” James says, “I envision to promote bat ecotourism in the Philippines, much like bird-watching. It is my passion to make bats known to the people so they won't kill them but appreciate them.”

James is a graduate student at the University of the Philippines, studying bats and their parasites.

Funded by Ottawa (January 2017)