It’s Monday 8th October 2012 and what a lot of bats!!!

Hi there! I hope you are well, had a lovely weekend and are sitting comfortably to look up to the skies for this weeks flying tale.  As some may know, and others may be about to find out, Zambia has a host of incredible natural wonders.  Obviously we think that the Luangwa is pretty much up there but for this week I am going to take you west of the Luangwa Valley to one of Zambia’s smallest National Parks, Kasanka, which is a mere 420 km2.  In the centre of this park lies a 40 hectare forest & swamp area that hosts an annual wildlife phenomenon.  As the Musuka and Waterberry trees of the region begin to fruit, up to10 million straw coloured fruit bats make their way from the DRC to this one particular patch in Zambia.

Kasanka  National Park

This is a key wildlife event and when in full swing, provides the highest mammal concentration in Africa, probably the highest concentration of mammalian biomass/m2 in the world and pre and post their arrival the biggest mammal migration.  Lets break this down into something that may put it all into perspective for you.  Each bat weighs about 250g and as numbers reach up to 10 million this would equate to 2.5 million kgs.  Now for the scary part – elephants weigh approximately 3500kgs so this is the equivalent of 700 elephants flying around!  All I can say is “poor trees” as the bats all come in to roost!

BatsMore  bats

So let’s hit you with some more facts, shall we.  This year the first bat arrived on 27th September, two days later there were 6 and by 1st October numbers had reached 2,500. This was an early arrival from the norm by two weeks.  However, yesterday they had all disappeared. Anyone seen 2,500 bats?

BattySome more bats

In years gone by the average numbers have risen in particular patterns:

25 Oct 1 million
01 Nov 3+ million
10 Nov 8-10 million
25 Nov peak
07 Dec in decline
20 Dec less than 1 million

That is a lot of bats!  Not wanting to miss out on the action, we do specific bat safaris over this period and each and every time our guests come back blown away by the sheer magnitude of the experience.

The bats take off from their roosts at dusk and fill the skies turning the sunset almost black as they all disappear off for a night of foraging. They return again at dawn, and take up their cozy spots next to each other high up in the trees as the branches buckle under the weight 2.5million kilograms!  There are now a number of hides strategically place in the bat area and the best time is pre dawn.  The 3.30 am wake up call is worth it.  Standing up in the tree hide watching this amount of aerial activity is a sensatory phenomenon with not only the visual effect but also the sound and feeling of everything coming to life.

Wasa Camp (Aerial view)A hide

Taking words from Jo Pope: “I have spent 3 hours with half a million king penguins on South Georgia so my wildlife bar is high but the bats impressed, inspired and left me awe struck!”
So there you have it.  If that doesn’t make you want to take a look then I don’t know what will…

RoostingHanging around

DaytimeSunset

There is very little else that I can follow with so for this week I shall bid my farewells and chat again next Monday.

Emily

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