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.
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.
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.