Considered to have potential as a future World Heritage Site
Location and Area: Kasanka National Park is a relatively small park (420 km2) in central Zambia (see map).
Inscription Status: Not yet included on Zambia’s Tentative List (2015).
Important Values: As the park’s T-shirt declares ‘its all about the bats’! Ten million straw-coloured fruit bats congregate in a few hectares of gallery forest in KasankaNational Park for 6 weeks each year to harvest a seasonal bonanza of wild fruit. It is a natural phenomenon of unparalleled proportions, the largest known mammal congregation in Africa, with ecological consequences permeating the woodlands and forests over vast swathes of central southern Africa..
Slideshow of Kasanka National Park (see below for description):
Slideshow description: The slideshow begins with a series of photos of the main roost of the straw-coloured fruit bats (Eidolon helvum) at Kasanka, which is located in a few relatively small patches of gallery forest, surrounded by grasslands. Close-up views of individual bats and small groups are shown alongside some general pictures of the roosting site and the mass flight of millions of bats at dusk. There are strict rules governing access to the roosting site, so many of these pictures have been kindly provided by park ecologist Frank Willems. An observation tower, Fibwe Hide is available for public viewing and provides excellent (if rather distant) views of the mass flight of an estimated 8-10 million bats at dusk each night from mid-October to mid-December while the roost is occupied. In the surrounding areas research activities are undertaken to learn more about the bats migration, movements and possible disease transmission. Bats have been fitted with satellite tracking collars which show that they make nightly forays of around 60 km in each direction from their roost in Kasanka, and at the end of the 2-month season at Kasanka, migrate to the north and north-east over a massive area of the Congo Basin forests, northern Tanzania and Malawi, often covering 1,000km in just a few weeks after they leave Kasanka. Studies are also being carried out to understand the extent of predation by birds of prey at the roosting site, as this may provide some insight into why this species of bat comes together in such massive roosts despite the need to forage over a much wider area. The slideshow finishes with some more general landscape views at Kasanka and photos of some of the other species found in the park – sable antelope, puku, elephants, reedbuck and a side-striped jackal, before finishing with sunset views over the bat roost as bats fill the sky.
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