Guests often ask how guides manage a long term guiding career? One of the standard answers they get is that there is so much to learn out there that it keeps the job interesting. It is not long after you have learnt the book answers to certain animals that you realise that after actually observing them on a daily basis they do things that are out of the ordinary and certainly not classic text book behaviour. The wilderness is so intricate that you couldn’t possibly learn everything there is to know about it in a life time, never mind in just a few years.
So as guides we continue learning and constantly being amazed by the glorious world around us.
This last weekend of batting was yet again another example of a world that up until recently we knew very little about; it gave us a glimpse into a the lives of creatures that will hopefully now get more than short one-sentence explanations about what they are.
Kate MacEwan, head of Inkululeko Wildlife Services, visited Londolozi with her husband Bo, and Erna and Julio Balona who head up the Bat Interest Group.
Kate studied Zoology at university and became fascinated by bats early on in life. A large aspect of her work involves the monitoring of wind-farms to evaluate ecological impact, particularly pertaining to bat populations. Bo, being married to a bat expert, also has many years of bat capturing experience behind him.
Erna and Julio, although chemical engineers by trade, have 20 years experience in the bat world between them. They never miss an opportunity to collect bat data on weekends.
The two couples arrived with a whole assortment of bat capture apparatus, and spent the evenings rigging nettings and traps to catch bats on the wing, both around camp and out in the bush. During the day they delivered presentations to the rangers and trackers about bat conservation, speciation, echolocation and basic morphology.
Have a look at what we managed to find:
Altogether ten species of bat were identified by the research team, which were as follows:
Green House bat Scotophilus verdis
Little Free Tail bat Chaerephon pumilus
Welwitsch’s myotis Myotis welwitschii
Zulu serotine Neoromicia zuluensis
Giant Yellow House bat Scotophilus nigrita
Banana bat Neoromicia nana
Schlieffen’s Twilight bat Nycticeinops schlieffeni
Mauritian tomb bat Taphozous mautitiannus
Egyptian Slit faced bat Nycertis thebaica
Temminck’s myotis Myotis tricolor
Although owls generally take centre stage when it comes to the nocturnal flying creatures of the area, there is a whole new understanding and appreciation for these small, fascinating winged mammals that inhabit Londolozi.
Written and Photographed by Kate Imrie, Head of Guide Training