Farhat Abbas Saleem

SARGODHA

Hundreds of horrible and giant bats, weighting up to five kilogramme each, have attacked and devoured fruit orchards in the suburban area of Sahiwal Town, thereby creating financial concerns for the farmers.

Their flying from their abodes presents terrifying scene at the sunset. The heavyweight bats hover in the sky in the daylight. The owners of the orchards said that a few months ago, the bats having more than five kilogrammes of weight each stormed their orchards of mangoes, pear, bananas and dates trees and within days, they eat up all the fruit which they had to sell in the market to earn a living. The famers said that they had become hand to mouth because of the assault of the bats. They are hesitant to cultivate their crops because of presence of the huge number of the bats in the area, they said. They added that the people especially children remain sleepless in the nights due to the bats’ terror.

They said that the number of bats was increasing day by day and they are spreading in the area. They demanded the Wildlife Department should take notice of the situation.

Bats are mammals of the order Chiroptera whose forelimbs form webbed wings, making them the only mammals naturally capable of true and sustained flight. By contrast, other mammals said to fly, such as flying squirrels, gliding possums, and colugos, can only glide for short distances. Bats do not flap their entire forelimbs, as birds do, but instead flap their spread-out digits, which are very long and covered with a thin membrane or patagium.

They are the second largest order of mammals (after the rodents), representing about 20% of all classified mammal species worldwide, with about 1,240 bat species divided into two suborders: the less specialized and largely fruit-eating megabats, or flying foxes, and the highly specialized and echolocating microbats.

About 70% of bat species are insectivores. Most of the rest are frugivores, or fruit eaters. A few species, such as the fish-eating bat, feed from animals other than insects, with the vampire bats being hematophagous, or feeding on blood.

They are present throughout most of the world, with the exception of extremely cold regions. They perform vital ecological roles of pollinating flowers and dispersing fruit seeds; many tropical plant species depend entirely on bats for the distribution of their seeds. They are economically important, as they consume insect pests, reducing the need for pesticides. The smallest bat is the Kitti’s hog-nosed bat, measuring 29-34 mm (1.14-1.34 in) in length, 15 cm (5.91 in) across the wings and 2-2.6 g (0.07-0.09 oz) in mass. It is also arguably the smallest extant species of mammal, with the Etruscan shrew being the other contender.