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The Kid Should See This

Living in a tree for 3 weeks to film 10 million bats

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Imagine spending three weeks high up in a tree. For dedicated cameraman Josh Aitchison, this wasn’t just a feat of endurance, but also an incredible opportunity to capture an extraordinary phenomenon: the migration of 10 million straw-colored fruit bats.

Aitchison traveled to Zambia’s Kasanka National Park to film the world’s largest mammal migration for the BBC’s Mammals. His footage, along with this firsthand account, offers a rare glimpse into the fruit bats’ incredible annual gathering from all over equatorial Africa.

“It’s just amazing. It’s lovely being up trees because you get such a special view. You get this sort of privileged view out across what’s just an extraordinary spectacle. Very nearly the whole world population is in this one small area…”

bats in the trees

“No one’s really quite sure why they come so far, why they all come here, why this exact place. Partly to do with the type of trees, partly to do with the coolness in this forest. It’s got water underneath. It’s a swamp, really. Partly there must be a massive amount of food, partly they’ve got their own social reasons to do it.

“It’s kind of lovely that we don’t know, I think. Actually, I quite like it. It’s a bit of an unknown thing about nature, which is slowly giving up its secrets, and that’s one of the ones that we haven’t quite fathomed yet.”

filming at sunset
From the cacophony of millions of roosting fruit bats to the eerie silence of their departureβ€””You can’t even hear their wings. The sky is darkening with bats but you can’t hear them,”β€”Aitchison’s camera work reveals the intricacies of this ecological wonder. The bats’ role in pollination of plants, control of insect populations, contribution to nutrient cycling through the production of guano, and seed dispersal across deforested terrain supports the vitality of the surrounding ecosystems.

bats at sunset
Watch these related bat videos next:
β€’Β How volunteers hand-raised an orphaned short-tailed fruit bat
β€’ The Tube-Lipped Nectar Bat has a very long tongue
β€’Β The Bat Volcano of Calakmul, Mexico
β€’Β The Bat Emergence at Bracken Cave in the Texas Hill Country

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