NORMA Monfort, environmentalist and renowned bat conservationist of Monfort Bat Sanctuary, passed away on November 27.

In a Facebook post by the Monfort Bat Sanctuary, Monfort died of a natural illness.

"She will always be remembered by many as a mother, friend, pianist, hula dancer, naturalist, and philanthropist," his son, Ennaii Monfort, said.

The matriarch, fondly nicknamed "Bat Mama," was best known for her efforts to increase the population of Geoffrey's Rousette fruit bats to at least 2.5 million. She is also the founder of the Monfort Bat Cave and Conservation Foundation, Inc.

The bat cave houses approximately 640 bats per square meter clinging to the rock formation of the natural sinkhole located at the Island Garden City of Samal.

In 2010, Monfort Bat Sanctuary was awarded the Guinness World Record for the largest known population of the said fruit bats.

Noel Daquioag, tourism officer of the province of Davao del Norte, said Monfort's contributions to Samal Island are incomparable. He said that the Monfort Bat Cave is one of the best and most popular attractions on Samal Island.

“Napakalaki ng role na ginampanan ni Ma’am Monfort kasi siyempre, hindi naman lahat ng mga lugar ay nasa Guiness Book of World Records so hte biggest contribution she did ay talaga ang Monfort Bat Conservation,” Daquioag said.

He shared that Monfort was looking into more eco-tourism projects for Davao del Norte, such as a bamboo sanctuary and establishing a bat museum thus he was saddened about her sudden passing.

“I know that her cause would always be with the hearts of those who surrounded her,” Daquioag said. ICM