Welcome to the Marine Mammal and wildlife Research and Community Development Expedition blog where you can keep up to date with all the happenings and information from Kenya

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

At Home With Shimoni's Wildlife

Our Shimoni base on the mainland is only about 10 minutes walk from the forest where we conduct our research and has been host to a variety of wildlife over the years, that simply wander / fly / slither in to the cottage by accident! Of course there is the constant threat of the odd Syke's monkey or galago (bushbaby) that is all to aware of whereabouts and whose sole intention is to feast on our fruit supplies.

This week has seen the usual plethora of mother nature's finest. Firstly there was the unknown species of tree snake, and whilst trying to find that we came across a scorpion hiding behind the fridge, and later on two bananas went missing in the hands of of our friendly neighbourhood galagos. The highlight however was the bat which found itself slightly of course gliding around the bedroom.

We found him hanging from our ceiling looking a little confused, but very cute. After taking a couple of photographs we spent the next 40 minutes trying to herd the poor thing out the door. It was an incredible experience, watching the bat fly slowly, effortlessly and with absolute precision through doorways and around a rather small and crowded cottage. We could hear the small clicks of echo-location as he casually avoided obstacles, hugged the contours of our stacked bookshelves, computers and sofas.

Bats are a fascinating taxonomic order (Chiroptera) that is separated in to two suborders; fruit bats (megachiroptera) and insect bats (microchiroptera). In spite of their marked similarities, the two groups exhibit numerous less obvious differences which may suggest that insect bats share a common ancestry with insectivorous mammals while fruit bats may have more recent affinities with primates. The scientific community currently awaits for confirmation of these potentially separate origins which would signal the need for division in to two distinct orders.

From our photographs we can see the very small eyes and large eyes indicative of an insect bat. After a look through our book, we think he is of the family Nycteridae, and genus Nycteris, with the common name of the 'slit-faced bats'. We are secretly hoping another one will lose its way and find itself in the cottage so we can better photos for a closer look!