Photo blog: Africa’s giant fruit bats: The largest bat roost on earthAugust 22, 2018
Marvel at a lesser-known migration to a remote corner of the African continent.
Every year from around October to December, up to 10 million giant fruit bats (Eidolon helvum) visit a small part of the Kasanka National Park in northern Zambia.
With silky, straw-coloured bodies the size of a puppy and a wingspan of almost three feet (90cm), these bats, or flying foxes, quickly descend on the Mushitu Swamp Forest to gorge themselves on the wild fruit.
As a migratory bat species, the colonies of giant fruit bats that form in Kasanka come from all over Africa, including the tropical belt of Africa, Sudan South and other parts of Zambia.
As with all bat species, giant fruit bats take to the sky at dusk and feed throughout the night until dawn when they take their upside-down rest in the trees.
Chattering and squealing, they dominate the sky in a flurry of nocturnal noise. They team up to dive-bomb any encroaching predators, such as birds of prey and crocodiles, into retreat so that they can continue their feast in peace.
Upon arriving back at the milkwood and mahogany trees to sleep and digest their supper, the bats push and shove until they are all accommodated under the forest’s canopy. They pull their brown leathery wings around their bodies, close their bright orange eyes and fall into a well-earned sleep.
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