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Wham, Bam, Bat!

Wham, Bam, Bat!


Bat on a pawpaw plant

On an expedition to Natewa Tunuloa’s hills, Steven Saphore finds himself caught on the horns of a dilemma. To eat or not to eat an endangered species you’ve sworn to protect.

All you can hear is the repetitive chirping of insects and birds in the air. To some this would be an annoyance, to others, an orchestra. Regardless, a multitude of species each echoes with their unique rhythm. Some ring with higher frequencies while others vary their pitch throughout the piece. The frequent calls of birds, clicks of geckos, and squabbles of bats join the diversity of the choir. It is as if this hypnotic ensemble is crescendoing together as one, pulsating through the layers of trees, fittingly reminiscent of a heartbeat.   The Jungles of Natewa Bay are alive this evening.    The faint turbulence of a river can be heard in the distance as we pass 100-foot-tall trees, plantations of yaqona, and fields of wild dalo and cassava. This change of scenery seems surreal as just 30 minutes ago I had a panoramic view of the sun setting over Natewa Bay in my eye, with the villages Muana and Naqaravutu in the foreground.     I am with Silio Lalaqila and Lusiano Qio, chairman and vice chairman of the Sisi Initiative Site Support Group (SSG), a grassroots organisation dedicated to protecting over 15,000 acres of jungle and forest in the Natewa Tunuloa region from deforestation and development. These misty mountains are home to SSG, the ones they are sworn to protect. Every so often I catch the distinctive musky scent of a flying fox, skunky marijuana with wings flying from tree to tree. Some like the smell, some hate it, many don’t know it. Perhaps if you’ve spent as much time around bats as I have, your nose may quickly grow fond of their unique perfume too. Distinctly different to their cave-dwelling, insect-eating brethren, microbats, flying foxes subsist on a diet of fruit and nectar.

For the complete story purchase the June 2013 issue of Mai Life Magazine.

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