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PH Disney hero calls for Stallone film ban

/ 09:58 PM February 29, 2012

DAVAO CITY—Samal Island’s bat conservation heroine has vowed she would campaign against Sylvester Stallone’s coming movie, “Expendables 2,” over the alleged destruction of one of Europe’s most important bat conservation caves during the shooting of the film.

Norma Monfort, hailed as a conservation hero for 2011 by the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, said a boycott of the film would be justified.

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Thousands dead

Bulgaria’s environment protection agency fined the producers of “Expendables 2” after it was learned that the production team removed trees and shrubs from the mouth of the Devetashka Cave in the town of Lovech.

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Bulgarian authorities said the incident could negatively affect the cave’s endangered residents, which included bats.

Dottie Hyatt, the vice president of the Bat World Sanctuary, said in an e-mail that Devetashka Cave is one of the most important bat habitats in Europe; and that the making of the movie there had caused the deaths of thousands of bats.

On its website, the Texas, US-based Bat World Sanctuary has been urging people around the world to send protest letters to Millennium Films and Warner Bros., to let the filmmakers know that people “cannot tolerate irresponsible behavior” toward wildlife.

“As a purportedly ethical society, it is time we moved beyond the practice of sacrificing free-living animals for entertainment,” Bat World said.

Monfort announced she was launching a signature campaign against the film.

“Expendables 2,” which also stars Bruce Willis, Jean Claude Van Damme, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Statham and Jet Li, is scheduled for release this year.

Hyatt said it was not enough for the filmmakers to pay the Bulgarian government an environment protection fine, estimated at about $3,000 for the damage caused by the film’s shooting in the cave.

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The cave is home to 15 protected species of bats, or half of all bats found in Bulgaria. But the bat population within the cave markedly declined after the shooting, Hyatt said. “What they did cannot be corrected, unfortunately.”

She pointed out that the movie’s producers could make up for the mistake by “doing something, going forward to help bats across the world.”

Samal bat caves

“There are bat sanctuaries (around) the world that they could work with to help restore the balance of bat conservation,” Hyatt said.

She cited the Samal Monfort Park in Davao del Norte—which holds the Guinness Book record for being a sanctuary to the world’s largest concentration of Geoffrey’s Rosette fruit bats—as one area that the film’s producers could work in.

The Monfort bat caves on Samal Island host an estimated 1.8 million bats.

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TAGS: Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, Expendables 2, Norma Monfort, Sylvester Stallone
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