The huge golden-crowned bat, which has wings almost as broad as Tom Cruise, looks dreadful when it soars through the air spread-eagled, its lean, hairy body highlighting the size of its wings. When it’s roosting, its stretchy black cape makes it appear like a vampire.
Despite its intimidating size, the fruit-eating megabat, which is a member of a species that is unique to the Philippines, is harmless and shows no signs of attacking people.
People encroach on their habitat and hunt them illegally for sport or food, making them an endangered species.
People who were astonished by their size and predatory look were intrigued and terrified by viral photographs of these helpless, endangered creatures.They were initially referred to as “human-sized” bats when the first photographs went viral, but this erroneous description led to both confusion and panic.
There are a few things we need clarify before learning more about these unusual critters. First of all, they are not “human-sized” unless you are applying a very generous definition and comparing them to a “small child” rather than an average adult human.
With a wingspan of roughly 5-foot-6 and a body that ranges in size from seven inches to 11.4 inches and weighs less than 3 pounds, the enormous golden-crowned bat is one of the largest species of bats in the world.
The fig-loving bat is a nocturnal herbivore that hunts at night for roots, fruits, and vegetables. Its head is covered in a fluffy golden crown.
Although there are other varieties of flying fox megabats in Asia, Africa, and Australia, the golden-crowned flying fox (Acerodon jubatus) is unique to the Philippine jungles, where it frequently lives in colonies with up to 10,000 members.
It spends the day hanging from its clawed toes in the trees with a group of its companions, dozing off. Sometimes, the enormous flying fox, which has a wingspan of less than five feet, would sleep with its smaller cousins, the giant bats.Giant Golden-crowned Flying Foxes don’t use echolocation like many other bats do; instead, they use sight and scent to find their way through the air.
By spreading fig seeds after it feeds, the flying fox contributes to reforestation throughout the Philippines while remaining unrelenting in its fight against deforestation.Unfortunately, humans do more destruction the harder the bats work.
More than 90% of the old-growth forests in the Philippines have been destroyed, and the species has totally vanished from many of its former roosting locations on numerous islands, according to Bat Conservation International (BCI).
Destruction of its natural habitat and hunting, for sale, sport and personal consumption, are causing a rapid decline in the golden-crowned bat population, that dropped by 50 per cent from 1986 to 2016. Since, the species is listed as endangered on The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Although the Philippine Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of 2001 provides protection for bats, the law is not upheld.
In spite of the fact that most of the animals’ roosts are in protected zones, they are nonetheless mass-killed. Hunters shoot the sleeping animals while they are roosting, which is an incredibly brutal and terrible activity. Many of the injured animals still have their toes holding the branch when they are killed, preventing them from dropping.
Even though people pose a serious danger to the bat population, flying foxes are not afraid of people and can be seen in forests close to cities or towns, perched on utility poles, or just loitering in inhabited places where they feel at ease. They can distinguish between safe and unsafe environments, though, and will move and roost in places that are inaccessible to people, including slopes more than 1,000 feet above sea level.
Similar to a dog in intelligence, these bats are also incredibly quick learners with a high capacity for memory, according to studies.
According to a study on operant conditioning, flying-fox bats that were raised by humans were effectively taught to pull levers in exchange for juice rewards. More significantly, when the bats came back to the comfortable experimental chamber three and a half years later, they pulled the levers right away because they knew they would be rewarded.
Some people may find the distinctive physical characteristics of bats to be disturbing or terrifying. It’s possible that their huge eyes, pointed teeth, and leathery wings will make you feel scared or uneasy.
Despite their unfavorable reputation as murderous animals, only three of the 1,300 species of bats are known to ingest human blood. The golden-crowned flying foxes are actually rather cute, if you can get over your initial shock at how creepy they are!
It’s very upsetting to learn that these bright, innocent animals are being slaughtered and losing their habitat as a result of deforestation. Share this tale if you concur to raise awareness for this harmless, endangered creature.