WATCH | Don’t let their appearance scare you. These vampires are saving the rainforests
They’re the vampires of the animal kingdom. With large pointed ears and skeletal fingers, bats are erroneously believed to be evil, bloodthirsty vessels of disease.
This reputation has put them in harm’s way. Luckily, Wendy White is taking bats under her wing.
With 14 years’ worth of bat care experience behind her, White nurses the injured animals with the goal of rehabilitating them back into the wild. To recover, bats need specialised feeding and a lot of warmth.
“They tend to bond with whoever’s taking care of them,” White says. “They’re actually very gentle creatures.” Not only are these mammals sensitive beings, they’re also vital to the ecosystem. “Fruit bats are critically important to the world because 95% of the tropical rainforests are propagated by bats,” White says.
Without them, multiple flora can’t be pollinated and seeds wouldn’t be dispersed, resulting in fewer plants and an imbalanced biosphere.
White is part of the Bat Interest Group of KwaZulu-Natal. Based in the province that harbours 39 of South Africa’s 56 bat species, the initiative is committed to protecting the creatures and dispelling myths about their nature.
They do this by hosting workshops at schools and communities to educate people on caring for an injured bat.
“It is so satisfying if you can heal an animal and release it back into its natural environment,” White says.
Although they may come across as forbidding, bats are fascinating creatures deserving of love.