Wednesday, March 23, 2011

When the Fruit are Ripe in Zambia
I am going to tell you about a very special place. The Mushita swamp forest, a remote and hidden section of Kansaka National Park in the heart of Zambia. What really makes it special is the event that occurs there every year in November and December.

The trees all bear fruit.

Maybe that doesn't sound all that amazing. After all, trees bear fruit everywhere. However, this fruiting is the only one that causes the largest gathering of mammals on the entire planet.
Drawn by the presence of the fruit they crave, every year eight million straw colored fruit bats (Eidolon helvum) descend on this small piece of watery forest.

They fill the skies like a great black cloud, and when they finally land to rest their sheer numbers cause thick tree limbs to break off and fall to the forest floor.

Perhaps the greatest thing about this event is the mystery of its origins. Where do the bats come from? Where do they go when the fruit are all gone?

No one knows, and honestly, this makes me happy. In a world that is so often stripped of magic and mystery, its good to know there are still some unanswered riddles out there.


  1. The special nature of Zambia is interesting for us to hear about Jason.

  2. That is really interesting. Someday someone will put a tracking device on one of them and find out where they go.

  3. That would be an interesting experiment. This particular species often moves in groups of 100,000 or more, so that would be a pretty intense study.