Popo of Pemba

Pemba Flying Fox

I know what you all are thinking. They call the police ‘popo’ in Pemba too? No, no, my friends. When I say popo, I mean the Kiswahili word for bats. Pemba is home to the “Pemba Flying Fox” a type of large, fruit-eating bat that was once near extinction, but thanks to an amazing awareness and conservation campaign, the species (Pteropus voeltzkowi) is flourishing.

Giovanna, Riccardo and Amour lookin' up at the popo

Although Giovanna and I had to work last weekend in a training course for health facility prescribers relating to Schistosomiasis (Zanzibar launched a national elimination campaign this year), we managed to fit in a trip to Kidike on Saturday to see the furry, flying, and famous mammals. We arrived at about 5:30pm, just as they were waking up and getting ready to take flight to find a succulent fruity meal. We were met by a local community member who clapped his hands and made noise in order to get the popo to take flight and show off their wings.

Kidike Landscape

It was a really nice adventure, and since this type of bat is endemic only to the Island of Pemba, it was a real treat. They were much cuter than I expected and honestly the fact that people used to eat them made me a little sad. Luckily now, they are a protected species and need not worry about becoming someone’s dinner.

Everything else is going well in Pemba. The good-byes started today as Giovanna left for a holiday break and she won’t return before I take off. In her absence I will be responsible for managing 3 other training courses, of course with the support of everyone here.  Although I will be working through the next two holiday weekends, I’m looking forward to seeing how everything goes.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Bats?! Okay, now I’m really jealous.


  2. Would you add your bat photo as a citizen-science observation to the AfriBats project on iNaturalist?:

    AfriBats will use your observations to better understand bat distributions and help protect bats in Africa.

    Please locate your picture on the map as precisely as possible to maximise the scientific value of your records.

    Many thanks!


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