Monday, March 1, 2010

Bats! Bats! Bats!

I don't know how many West African cities have large populations of large bats, but I can say that both Monrovia and Accra are filled with humungous colonies, which take over entire trees in the downtown area. At first, they look like dead trees, with dry leaves clinging to the undersides of the branches, until you realize that you are looking at clusters of sleeping bats.

I'm not really afraid of animals, but I have to say that I think bats look sort of diabolical.

Anyway, today was quite an event on Snapper Hill, when, just as we were driving by, a huge crash came from one of the giant trees nearby. It sounded like a strike of lightning, or an auto accident. Instead, it seems as though we witnessed an incident of the straw that broke the camel's back: there were just too many bats on this one branch, and it all came crashing down. Pretty fascinating, from a physics/mathematics point of view.

Well, this resulted in bat pandemonium. The bats, being nocturnal, were mostly asleep, and I also wonder whether their eyes are even worse in broad African daylight than in their normal night-time setting. The bats panicked, and thousands of them started flying all over the place. Some right into the ground, others into chain-link fences. One or two hit the side of the car.

This, in turned, caused a rush from all the people nearby-- running to catch them with their hands or even buckets and nets. Not a quarter hour later, there were bats for sale in the streets, a few blocks away (I was tempted, but didn't buy one…)

Bats for dinner across the city tonight!

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