Saturday, June 18, 2011

Enigmatic Friendly Bat

Abe V RotorThis is a closeup of a fruit-eating bat, Ptenochirus jagorii Peters or paniki. Bats fascinates man, mostly leading to fear and superstition. And lately to cinematic awe and admiration - batman.

This fruit bat was ensnared with aerial nylon net which was set up by biology researchers from the UST Graduate School to study the fauna of Tikob Lake, a volcanic lake in Tiaong, Quezon. It was later released after the study.

Bats are nocturnal. They have a special radar tool to find their way and search their prey in total darkness. It is called echolocation. Their high pitch sound is echoed and instantly deciphered by the animals' keen sense of hearing.

Ever wonder what good are the eyes of bats then? It's a question biologists would refer you to the subject of evolution. Evolution may lead to either the development of certain features as tool in the survival of a species. Or it could lead to the degeneration of a particular feature which apparently has diminishing function - or has totally lost that function. Thus the eyes of bats are no longer as functional as say, ours. Many species of fish living in dark caves have lost their power of vision. Nature's law of substitution or compensation works in these cases. Cave bats can devour hundreds of mosquitoes in mid air in just one minute. Insects have antennae that serve to feel and smell, and as thermometer and barometer.

Fruit bats are hunted down because they destroy crops. This is not really true, because they eat mostly fruits of wild plants. The worst assault comes from the destruction of the bats natural habitats, mainly the forests which are being cut down and burned. Fruit bats indeed face a bleak future.

Ugliest and misunderstood the bat,
Always the hunted on film and real;
Obiquitous by night, shy to light
Enigmatic, scary, surreal.

We children, didn't sleep alone or soon.
Waiting for the high pitch call,
We would dive under our blankets
And survive the vampire's

Imagination scares the young

When clumsy bats lose their load
In the dark and break the quiet night;
"Just bats," soothingly we were told.

"Sleep, before dawn we'll catch them."
Net in the air we waited the rise of sun;
One, two, three bats of different kind,
And examined them one by one.

"Who is afraid of the bat?" Not I,
And touched the wings of skin bare;
Not I, and outlined the bat's dog face;
Not I, and freed it from its snare.

Photo by Abe V Rotor, Pentax Spotmatic II, Takumar lens.

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