Straw-coloured Fruit Bat ZAMBIAN DAWN (Eidolon helvum) Kasanka National Park, Zambia. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds. Canon 1DX, 500mm F4 L IS, Tripod & Jobu Jr. 3 (with Deluxe Swing-arm upgrade) ISO 400 f/5 @ 1/2,000s Manual Mode. PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION HERE.
I suppose I should call this post Zambian Dreams....
Seeing 7 million Straw Colored Fruit Bats return to their roost in Zambia was something I have wanted to do since I was about 8 or 9 years old after reading about it in one of the first National Geographic Magazines that I ever saw in the elementary school library. It was when I first imagined what it would be like to see the world as a nature photographer! Said to be the largest mamal migration on earth, this was the single most impressive natural history sight I have ever seen.
This is pretty much the image I have had in my head all those years; I always try to pre-visualize the images that I would most like to capture; sometimes they work, other times mother nature throws a curve-ball and they don't. I knew the money shot would be a wide shot with the treeline and the sunrise, but I didn't know I would use my 500mm lens to get it. It's always a good idea to bring a selection of equipment, even when you don't expect to use it.
Now back to the dreams; they can come true - wink.
About the Straw-coloured Fruit Bat
During November and December each year five to seven million straw-coloured fruit bats take up residence in one hectare of Kasanka National Park’s mushitu swamp forest. Enticed by the abundance of such delicacies as musuku, mufinsa and the other wild fruits in the area, colonies of bats start arriving in late October. Straw-coloured fruit bats are identifiable by their pale, tawny fur and bright orange neck. As with all fruit bats (alias flying foxes) they have dog-like facial features with small ears, large eyes and a long snout. The wingspan of a straw-coloured fruit bat reaches 85-95cm making them the largest bat in Southern Africa. By day the bat colony roosts in the trees of the mushitu forest, packing themselves around branches and trunks which often break under the sheer weight of bats! Daily life is not easy for the bats as many predators including raptors turn to a diet of bats for the two months that the colony is in residence. Fish eagles, martial eagles, vultures and numerous other raptors have been seen to take the bats in flight and from the roost.