Fruit Bats in Mumbai
Though Mumbai is a city full of congestion and traffic, there are pockets of green in several places in the city that attract birds and animals like bats. Fruit Bats have been feasting on mangoes left over from the mango season on trees in Mumbai. We were lucky to be able to photograph one just outside our window in Andheri East!
We stay in Andheri East bordering Aarey Milk Colony that is the green lung of Mumbai. Hence it is no surprise that we get a lot of feathery visitors like sun birds, mynas, fly catchers, parakeets and several other types of birds. Bats have also been a regular visitors to a bunch of Ashoka trees in our compound. But this is the first time we were able to see a bat from up close.
An article in DNA “Mumbai bat lovers unite forces to save their leathery friends” has reported sightings of bats in other areas of Mumbai including Colaba, Dadar Parsee Colony and Veermata Jijabai Udayan. The article also explains that The Maharashtra Nature Park Society (MNPS) in Dharavi is reaching out to 750 of the 3,400 schools in the city in the first lap to raise awareness about bat conservation.
Here are some photographs we got of the bat:
The bat first hung comfortably upside down and pruned itself like a cat
It then went over to a ripe mango and started eating it with relish
We lit up the scene with a cycle headlight
And here is a video that shows how comfortably the bat lives in a tree:
The pictures and videos seem to indicate that this bat is the Indian Flying Fox. Found a nice article in Mid Day where BNHS mammalogist Dr Bandana Aul describes various species of bats found in Mumbai. This is how she describes the species (I presume) of the above bat:
- Old World Fruit Bats (Megachiroptera):
These are the fruit eating species and seen around human settlements. The most common one is the Indian Flying Fox commonly seen on Ficus trees in large aggregations during the day. A roost close to the Hornbill House, in the premises of the CSMVS, can be seen easily during the day. These form the group of Mega-bats. They have large eyes, small ears, large bodies, and have a dog/ fox-like face and so are frequently referred to as Flying Foxes. They either eat fruit or drink nectar from flowers. They have been misunderstood to be farmer’s pests; on the contrary, they are pollinators of economically important species in forests, including cash crops such as mango, cashew, balsa, agave, and bananas. They are roost-loyal, and rarely change roosts unless disturbed