Lesser short-nosed fruit bat : Bats are one of the most astounding creatures I have ever encountered in my life, When I was young, I only thought of discounting them, obviously they are no handsome creatures to look at. But when I started taking wildlife photography a bit more seriously, I figured out that these creatures of the nocturnal world are as charismatic as any other wildlife and also they are rarely seen, so that made me to get more interested about them.
My first bat was an Indian Flying Fox ( Pteropus giganteus ) which I saw in Sunderbans. They are a large species of bat and I was really fascinated when I saw them for the first time. My second one is the bat about which I am writing this article, the Lesser short-nosed fruit bat ( Cynopterus brachyotis )
Lesser short-nosed fruit bat is a species of megabat which is widely spread through south and south-east asia . In India it has stable population, distributed throughout the north-eastern part but is rare in southern India.
In india it is mostly found in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. This species of bat is locally abundant and most common in disturbed and residential areas,i.e, they tend to stay within human settlements.
Lesser short-nosed fruit bats are generally brown to yellowish-brown with a brighter collar. Adult males have a darker orange collar whereas females have yellowish collar. An indistinct collar is often found in some immature bats. The edges of the ears and the wing bones are usually white. The wing span can be (6-7)cm each.There are almost 9 subspecies of this bat.
Lesser short-nosed fruit bats become active shortly after sunset and fly directly to fruiting trees to feed on small fruits, as well as on nectar. They fly around the trees several times before settling on the fruit or flower, where they use claws on the first and second digits of the hands, as well as their strong feet, to cling on to the corsage of fruit or flower whilst feeding.
As Lesser short-nosed fruit bats do not echolocate, i.e, use echolocation or biosonar by producing ultrasonic sound waves to fly or locate prey, thus they must find their food using their large eyes and strong sense of smell. During the day, they return to their roosts mostly in palms trees which provide a lot of shade, especially seed clusters of palms, either solitary or in small groups of a few individuals.
The Lesser short-nosed fruit bats are particularly an important seed-disperser, they are seasonal specialist, and over an annual fruiting cycle can consume the fruits of 54 species, the leaves of 14 species and the flower parts of 4 species. There are no major threats to this species as a whole though it is locally threatened by deforestation in many areas.
As I said in the beginning bats are astounding creatures, though they are part of the dark nocturnal world but when encountered one, I was much more exhilarated rather than I thought. Watching them in the dim streetlights and spotting was not so difficult, the demanding job was photographing them. And with the setup I had, it became more difficult, a nikon D5300 with a tamron sp 150-600mm tele lens without any external flash.
The problem was, the Lesser short-nosed fruit bats didn’t tend to cling on any bunch of flowers for more than 5-6 secs. The flowers that bloomed on the upper branches of a white silk-cotton tree ( Ceiba pentandra ) were so dark that my lens couldn’t focus. Tamron sp 150-600 mm is a very fast lens with an amazing sharpness quality and AF speed. But in low light or better if I say NO LIGHT, the lens failed to focus on the bats that were feeding on the upper branches, so I shifted my position towards the lower branches where there were few flowers and relied on manual focus. With patience and luck, after waiting for an hour almost around 9 pm, after failing many attempts finally I could manage 3 photographs that I have added in this article, and that was something quite challenging for an young wildlife enthusiast like me.
I will conclude by saying bats might look obnoxious but they are one of the most intelligent creatures among us. One can just think that how developed their system works that they can produce ultrasonic waves of sound to detect movement and objects, even bats like these fruits bats have high sense of smell and vision that is way better than any human and if one observes them for some time, then trust me, they will find the bats cute. If not so, they are also a part of the living world so don’t look at them with a sense of disgust, they are living creatures and any form of life deserves respect and the right to live with emancipation.
Thank you for patiently reading my article, hope in future I’ll be able to produce more content. If you like my work and content then do share and comment.
All copyrights for photographs are reserved by Swarnava nandi
Kit used : D5300, tamron sp 150-600mm ( no external flash )