Cardamom County faces onto the Periyar Reserve. From much of the property, including most guest rooms, the view is clear onto a huge stand of bamboo. In the upper reaches you can always see dark bundles dangling during the day time. By late afternoon, the bundles start moving. When will they transform into something recognizable?
When foxes fly. That’s when. And it is best when it happens before sundown because with a wingspan of up to three feet, it looks like a prehistoric raptor at first glance. It is difficult to take good quality photos of these creatures in flight because lighting is not usually right. Around 2:30 p.m. recently, on an extremely windy day the motion woke them and they took flight. Annoying to them, probably, but very fortunate for me.
When the sky calmed, they went straight back to ornamental position. I roamed around the same spot where I took those pictures for days hoping to get better shots but all I could see were bundles; by the time they started their movement, it was too dark to take pictures.
They do look like darkly wrapped gift packages from a distance, maybe out of a Tim Burton movie; when they un-bundle they don’t look as giftly as hoped. I think it is common perception that bats are dangerous. The first thought that came into my mind when spotting the bats was sinister. However, these are anything but sinister. They perform several key ecological services, the most important one (as far as I am concerned) being consumption of insects. Gotta love that.
This species is Indian Flying-fox, also known as the Greater Indian Fruit Bat, which is a megabat in the Pteropodidae family. It could be found in Bangladesh, China, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. It is the second largest bat species around the world and the largest in India. Their main habitat is forests and their wing span are between 1.2 and 1.5 meters. They are frugivores feeds mainly on ripe fruits such as mangoes, bananas, and nectar. They aid the distribution of plants by carrying fruit with them and spitting seeds or evacuating them in other manners. Indian Flying-foxes have no record of attacking humans or livestock. As the famous saying goes, don’t judge a book by its cover.