Superstition and wrong belief appear to have become the rationale behind the hunting of megabats or more popularly called fruit bats or flying foxes in Vjiayawada.
Hunters claim that the flesh of these bats has medicinal properties and is the panacea for many chronic diseases such as asthma and arthritis’ and their bones when dried and tied round the waist can ward off evil spirits.
Countering their claim, Andhra University former head of Zoology Department Bharata Lakshmi said that it was all humbug.
On the contrary it has been proved that fruit bats at times carry many life- threatening viruses.
Megabats survive on fruits and nectar and are considered pollinating agents.
“Fruit bats should be protected as they help in pollination and growth of trees and plants,” said Pradeep Nath, an animal conservationist.
A recent declaration has listed all types of bats under protected species. While some species such as microbats had been listed under endangered species, fruit bats or megabats have been listed under schedule four, said the professor.
Cruel way of hunting
The bats are hunted by a group in the Krishnalanka area on the banks of the Bandar Canal, a favourite haunt for the bats, as there are a number of jamun trees (syzygium cumini) in that area. The hunters tie a net to the trees to trap the bats first and then beat them on the head to kill them when entangled. Price of each bat depends on their size and it varies from Rs.40 to Rs.50 each. “We have our set of identified customers and sell only to them,” said a hunter. The hunting operation starts at around 5 p.m. with the tying of the nets and ends at about 11 p.m. with the catch. The daily catch varies between 30 and 50 fruit bats.