The Incredible Journey
We all know the story of the Incredible Journey of the two dogs and a cat that walked home across America. Well, did you know that Zambia has its own Incredible Journey?
YES! Right here in Kasanka National Park, we have the greatest mammal migration in Africa.
This is the annual Straw Coloured Fruit Bat migration.
Each year, 10 million fruit bats fly into the forests and swamps of Kasanka National Park to feed on the fruits of milk wood, mahogany and fig trees. They then scatter the seeds, which in turn prompts reforestation.
The bats leave the forest in the early evening every night in search of food, returning in the early hours of the morning to settle once more in the trees. The spectacle of them spiraling through the skies, whilst screeching and colliding as they come down to roost is something that every nature lover will be enthralled with. As they leave and return, the sky is darkened by the sheer number of them, and it is at these times that they are at their most vulnerable, with many birds attacking them as prey.
This is the best time to see the bats. Photographic enthusiasts will have wonderful opportunities to capture these amazing little creatures as they fly about, and also the possibility of the majestic Crowned Eagle as it hunts them.
Straw coloured fruit bats are one of the larger species of bats, weighing up to 350 grams. Their colouring is not entirely straw coloured. The neck and back carry this colour, whilst the underside of the body is a much duller brown or grey. Their wings are large and narrow, allowing them to fly for long distances. They have the ability to fly thousands of kilometers in a few nights. The wingspan is approximately 750mm, meaning that these little creatures are fast and powerful. The head is large and pointed and they have large eyes.
Then, just as suddenly as they arrive, they scatter to their other homes. No one really knows where they all go to, or quite when they will leave.
GUESS THE DATE.
Research has shown that over the last few years, the bats are arriving earlier and leaving later.
Last year they arrived on the 30th September and left on the 8th January, staying a total length of 101 days. In 2008, they arrived on the 16th October and left on the 30th December, staying a total of 76 days!
So how long will they be with us this year? Can you predict the:
Total length of stay:
Leave your answers in the comments block and I will forward them to Kasanka.
There is a prize up for grabs for the person who gets the closest for all 3.
WHY NOT GO AND SEE THIS SPECTACLE FOR YOURSELF?
You can stay at Wasa Lodge, Luwombwa Lodge or at one of the camp sites. You can send an enquiry on the Travel Zambia website. Check the accommodation out on the Kasanka page.
All photos by kind permission of Chris Meyer.