Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Some people like to eat bats, but others do not!

from w
I remember that in Labasa the boys used to catch the fruit bats who were raiding the fruit trees, and then cook them for dinner.  I haven't tried to eat them yet.  But in other places there's no way people will eat bats, and even in some countries they are regarded as sacred such as in Tonga.  A couple of weeks ago we drove through the village of Kolovai where the casuarina trees are home to  hundreds of fruit bats, or flying foxes. These nocturnal creatures are considered sacred by the Tongan people and remain protected animals in the Kingdom.

Though stories vary somewhat, both Tongan and Samoan legends claim that Tonga's flying fox colony at Kolovai descended from a pair of flying foxes that Sina, the Princess of Samoa, presented to the Tongan monarch (a gift of love, some say). As many as 600 flying foxes can be seen at the Kolovai colony In Tonga bats are protected by royal decree meaning Tonga is one of the few remaining locations where the Foxbat and the Old World Bat thrive in the wild.

Tonga is lucky to be home to the Flying Fox bat and the micro Old World Fruit Bat. The Flying Fox is pure vegetarian eating sap and fruit in the trees and thus plays a vital role in the Tongan ecosystem by pollinating trees and spreading the seeds through scat. Their meter wide wingspan and quick, darting flights in the tree tops makes the Flying Fox an easy mammal to view. Flying Foxes leave their tree roosts about an hour before sunset and begin their circling flight paths.

The Old World Bat is one of the world's smallest bats and can be seen living overhead of Swallows Cave. Old World Bats are some of the world’s lightest flying mammals weighing just a quarter ounce each.

"A baby bat is called a pup"
A website with great photos of Pacific Island bats is

I didn't take photos on our trip so I located photos from the net, including one of a young 'pup'. Well, some mothers do have 'em!


Joe Rahim said...

I was born in Labasa and first thirteen years of my life was in Labasa;this was from 1935 to 1949. In those days without schedule bus service, the growing child's world was limited to Wailevu to the west and Vaterakuka (the seat of Govrnment)to the east.I walked to visit relative to the west and All Saints Schoool to the East.
My father owned a little shop almost opposite Majestic Theatre in the Town of Nasea.
In the early forties up to 1949, when I left Labasa for Suva, to attend Marist Brothers High School, I use to cherish waking up at 5.30 am and as the first light of day came around I would love to see the bats flying back from the hill from about south west hills (Wailqeli) to north east towards the Island of Mali, just north across the waters of the wharf of Malua. And again, in the evenings, the bats would fly over our shops around Nasea from, I guess, Mali to the Hills towards Waiqele or so.
Those hills were the bats feeding ground.
I move to Canada from Suva in 1974 and lived in Calgary, Alberta Canada. In 1999 and again in 2008 and 2011 I visited Labasa with my wife. I wanted to revive the wonders of my childhood: the sight of watching the bats from Mali to the Hills and back. BUT THERE WERE NO BATS.
When I mentioned this to my son on my return to Canada he said: so sad, as the bats were providing nourishment to the soil and were important part of nature in the hills. Looks as thought clear cutting of the forest may have been the culprit.

I missed the BATS that were an integral part of the sky in my childhood years. And, I am sure for many more who grew up in that era.

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

From Peceli,
Hello Joe. What a good story. That time was my childhood too as I was born in 1936. There were very few shops in Nasea those days. I lived near St Mary's in Nacula, my Dad's property then. There were a lot of bats in Nacula those days, but not many around these days, maybe near the tiri of Labasa river. We live in Australia but babasiga land and people are always in our hearts and I go back as often as I can.

Joe Rahim said...

Hello Pecili,
More about bats of Calgary later.

In the last few weeks we have been keeing a "Vigil" in Labasa as my 78 year old aunt died so cousins from Australia, New zealand, USA and Canada were and are near Nasekula area. A cousin, a school teacher, Kamal Basha (68) of Tua Tua also died, and Shui Narayan (86) a prominent furniture maker who set up similar business in Sydney, died visiting Labasa four days ago. So there has been much revival of old stories and people and places via telphone.

Thanks for your blog.