Photo Gallery: Ridiculously Good Photography of LIFE in All Its Glory

By Eliza Strickland | March 26, 2010 8:05 am

Life’s Good at the Mega-Roost


It’s one of the most spectacular mass migrations on Earth, but one that has largely remained hidden from human eyes. Each year, millions of straw-colored fruit bats fly to Zambia’s Kasanka region in October, drawn by the area’s bounty of fruits like figs, loquat, and mango. Giant masses of bats roost in nearby trees, clinging to branches that sag or break under the collective tons of weight.

As evening falls, 150,000 bats per minute will leave the roost to forage, flying as far as 37 miles and in the process pollinating flowers and dispersing millions of seeds from ecologically and economically important trees. Over the course of their stay, the bats will consume twice their collective body weight in food and devour the equivalent of several billion bananas. While predators routinely attack the mega-roost, the sheer size of the roost deters some birds of prey; those hunters that do succeed in picking off a few bats have a negligible impact on the group as a whole.

Ten weeks into this mega-roost, just as mysteriously as the bats arrived, they depart—in some cases flying more than a thousand miles to the Congo rainforest.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, Photo Gallery
  • Dennis

    How someone manages to snap a photo like this blows my mind!
    The depth of field is razor thin, the critter is in motion (most likely quite rapid motion), running straight at the camera and yet the eyes are in perfect, tack-sharp focus!
    I’m a beginner, aspiring wildlife photographer, and for me, achieving this even with a stationary subject can be a challenge.

    edit: this comment refers to the first photo, of the elephant shrew.

  • Tom

    These are simply amazing pictures. What a world to live in!

  • Richard D. Stacy

    “80beats” is an amazingly wonderful website.

  • nick

    WOW that komodo dragon has some truly epic drool going on.

    re: Dennis: my guess would be a high speed camera tripped when the shrew is heading in, then hundreds of frame gathered in the few seconds it takes to pass, ensuring that it will be in focus when passing through the shallow depth of field required to take such high speed shots with no flash. (shallow depth of field = larger aperture = more light let in at once)

    The flamingos sound like they throw a rave to hook up with their mates.

  • Daniel J. Andrews

    The Trials of Life (Sir David Attenborough) has the elephant shrew careening along runways in episode 5, Finding the Way, around minute 12. They too have low angle cameras and excellent footage of the little critter.

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