A group of 7 researchers affiliated with the Max Planck Institute for Animal Behavior visited Kasanka in November 2019 for an on-going project on the Straw-Coloured Fruit Bats (Eidolon helvum).
Their visit had 3 aims:
Previous tagging studies have demonstrated that the bats fly on average 20 to 40km per night to feed on the local fruits. One other study has confirmed that they migrate thousands of kilometres to different colonies in equatorial Africa once they have had their fill in Kasanka. This is remarkable as no other fruit bat migrates over similar distances. It also has important implications for their conservation, however, there is still a lot to learn about the migration routes these bats take and where they roost in equatorial Africa. Even if all known colonies within several thousand kilometres migrate to Kasanka this does not add up to the numbers we observe here. Thus, tracking many more bats during migration is urgently necessary. However, this is still difficult as the appropriate miniaturized GPS technology is still being developed. But, in spite of very limited time for catching and tagging bats due to unforeseen delays with permits, the team managed to catch and tag 4 bats on their last night in the park. The tags used will record each bat’s position once a day over several weeks or even months, and send this data via SMS when the bats fly through cell signal! We will be watching these bats closely on Movebank (www.movebank.org) and we will let you know what they are up to.