Sunday, June 10, 2007

Fun with Bats on 9 June 2007

Eleventh Discovery Posting:

(Entry@15 June 2007 : Gotten a photo of the Wuyang Kulit and inserted it in)

Bats in Singapore? Is that possible? Yes.

Kent Ridge Park was the place where about 50 kids gathered with their parents to learn more about and look at bats. Here's them trying to organise themselves into groups before beginning the event (picture below).
And at the other side were four girls from Cedar Girls with their 'director' rehearsing for the Wayang Kulit show on bats to be shown later to the kids after the sun sets (picture below).
The first activity lined up was that kids had to draw a picture of what they thought a bat would look like. Their completed drawings were then hanged up for display. Here are some of them (pictures below).

After that, Dr Vilma then gave an introduction on what were bats by showing the children pictures and photos of bats. Luan Keng also brought a bat skeleton and a bird wing skeleton to show the difference between a bat's wing and a bird's wing.
Discovery Note (General Information on Bats):
1. Bats are mammals with a body that are very similar to our own.

2. Their most distinguishing feature is that their forelimbs (arms and hands) are developed as wings, making them the only mammals in the world naturally capable of flight.

3. It is estimated that there are about 1,100 species of bats worldwide, which accounts for about 20% of all mammal species on earth!

Later, the children gathered back into their groups and started to work on the activity, "Bats and me", where they were required to compare one of the group members with a certain species of bat found in Singapore. Here are some photos showing them working in progress with the help of HSBC volunteers (pictures below).
Discovery Note (Types of bats):
1. There are basically two main suborders (groups) of bats, they are megabats and microbats.

2. Megabats eat fruit, nectar or pollen from flowers while microbats eat insects, small mammals and fish, relying on echolocation for navigation and finding prey.

"Bats and me" not only helped the kids to learn more about bats. It also gave them a chance to work together as a group as the individual groups had to present their findings to everyone else after they had completed their work. Here's one group during their presentation (picture below).
Discovery Note (Truth behind the Myths of Bats):
1. Bats are not blind. In fact, they can see better than humans at night. However, echolocation is the most important sense for microbats when hunting for food.

2. Bats are not dirty. They actually spend a lot of time grooming and cleaning themselves and those in their colony. It is important to them that they stay clean and free of parasites.

3. Not all bats suck blood. There are only 3 known species of vampire bats and they can only be found in the Central and South America. And these vampire bats only need about two tablespoons of blood per day to survive, so they never consume enough to kill their prey, which is generally limited to large animals such as cows.

Never was there a moment of dullness for the kids, as they proceeded on to making bat masks straight after their presentations. Future artists in work progress (pictures below).

Discovery Note (Bats are useful to us):
  • Insectivorous bats (bats which eat insects) are far and wide the best bug-killers on the planet. Some species are known to be able to catch and eat as many as 600 mosquitoes in one hour.
  • They also feed on insects that destroy crops, providing an invaluable service to farmers.
  • Nectarivorous bats (bats which feed on nectar) gather pollen on their bodies as they feed on the nectar from flowers.
  • When they fly away, they spread the pollen, helping the plant disperse its seed.
  • Did you know that these bats help to pollinate plants such as the banana, figs, mangoes and even durians!
A group photo of every kid with their completed bat masks (picture below). Say 'Bat'!
Soon, it was picnic time as everyone enjoyed the view of the sunset (picture below) before we began on the second part of the event program.
For the second part of the event, kids were taught how to play the "Bat and Moth" game, where everyone had great fun as we waited for night fall.

As it turned darked, bats began to appear and as some groups walked deeper into the park to find more bats. The rest were treated to the wonderful Wuyang Kulit show put up by the girls from Cedar Girls. I couldn't take any photos as my hands were full holding the torches required to project shadows on the screen for the show.

(Entry@15 June 2007: A photo of the Wuyang Kulit in progress (picture below). Would like to thank one of the parents for providing this photo.)
Discovery Note:
1. Bats are threatened due to habitat lost and human activities.

2. And as most bat species gives birth to only one baby per year, so they multiply at a relatively slow pace.

As the second run of the Wuyang Kulit show ended and the second batch of kids returning from their sight 'hunting' of bats, the successful event came to an end.

Would like to thank Dr Vilma for letting me help in the event, Luan Keng for bring the interesting specimens, the HSBC volunteers for their assistance, the Cedar girls for the wonderful Wuyang Kulit they've put up, everyone who helped and all the children who attended this event!

Remember that,
If we can help Bats,
they can help us too!

For more information on bats, you may click here.


Siyang said...

I see bats at the tree outside my window everyday!

DreamerJuly said...

Really? Must be interesting.

Must be one of the trees for either nectarivorous or fruit bats or even a tree roost~