Great Migrations: Bats fill the skies

At a much-anticipated time every year, millions upon millions of fruit bats migrate to the Kasanka National Park in Zambia to feast on the seed-rich forest fruits. Twice a day, at dawn and dusk, the sky is filled with a swirling mass of screeching silhouettes, as the sun paints the sky in oranges, pinks and reds, creating a uniquely African sight.

Bat migration, Kasanka National Park, Zambia

From October to December, more than 10 million bats descend on the Mushitu swamp forest following the fragrant scents of the fruit. The straw-coloured creatures base themselves in one stand of trees, absolutely covering the trunks and branches during the day. As the sun sets they take off, almost as one, to search for food, blacking out the sky. They spend the night gorging on more than their own body weight and, by the time they are done, they have stripped the trees bare and devoured over a billion fruits.

Bat migration, Kasanka National Park, Zambia

It is an experience that floods the senses with cacophonous sound and the sight of the sky becoming “overcast.” The best vantage points are the treehouse platforms and hides dotted around the area. Perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea, the increasingly popular Great Bat Migration is the largest mammal migration in Africa and an amazing sight to see.

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Bat migration, Kasanka National Park, Zambia

Background image: © Katie Siedel