People living near Lang Son Province's Bat Cave earn their living by collecting bat guano everyday.
Women collecting bat guano
Bat guano can be used as an effective natural fertilizer. Farmers planting fruit-trees like to use bat guano to make their fruit sweeter, so dealers often come to Dong Sinh Village, Tan Lap Commune, in Lang Son Province’s Huu Lung District to buy bat guano then resell it to farmers in other localities.
Ha Thi Dien, a woman living on bat guano collecting said, “This job has existed for hundreds of years. Bat Cave has plenty of bat guano, it’s three hectares wide and 150 metres high.”
Ha Van Vet, Head of Dong Sinh Village said, “70% of women and children here earn their living by collecting bat guano everyday. That isn’t an easy life, their job is very hard and dangerous, plus the price of bat guano isn’t high at all.”
Everyday they get up at 4 a.m. Their tools include a basket, a broom, a torch tied to their head, gloves, raincoat, and sieve to screen guano.
In the dark cave, they use the light from the torch to collect bat guano on the ground. People have to suffer the terrible smell and bat guano ‘rain’. They often wear mufflers at the same time and apply balm to deal with the disgusting smell.
The collectors climb vertical cliff faces in order to collect more guano in order to avoid having to sieve it from sandy soil. After six hours collecting, they carry baskets of bat guano to sell to the dealers.
A packet of bat guano is worth just VND2,000 (USD0.1).
Entrance to Bat Cave
Sieving bat guano from sandy soil
Despite the disgusting smell
Hanging on to a vertical cave wall
Working after school
Bags of bat guano after a working day
Bat guano packed before sale to farmers