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June 2019 - Bat photography at Meletse Bat Research and Conservation Training Centre


Mengjing Wei (AfricanBats intern), together with Sherri and Brock Fenton at Meletse.
Mengjing Wei (AfricanBats intern), together with Sherri and Brock Fenton at Meletse.

A special trip focused on photography was organized at the Meletse Bat Research and Conservation Training Centre (13-20 June 2019). This trip was undertaken with Brock and Sherri Fenton together with Naas and Kobie Rautenbach and joined by AfricanBats NPC intern Mengjing Wei. Photography was undertaken at the Madimatle Cave, as well as over the water at the center, to capture images of bats drinking. To obtain more drinking opportunities, kiddies blow-up pools were set-up and filled with water (well in areas where the hosepipe could reach), but also where flash systems would not interfere with each other. As this event was at the start of winter, there was a very narrow window when bats were active. But even this short window provided lots of opportunities to photograph flying or drinking bats.

Bushveld Horseshoe Bat coming in to drink.
Bushveld Horseshoe Bat (Rhinolophus simulator) coming in to drink.

While during the day, images were examined, looking at possible ways in which lighting and/or camera placements could be improved – to capture amazing behaviors. But as with most wild animals, once you think you have the answer, the bats decide to do something else. This can be frustrating, but also makes bat photography addictive. Having both Brock Fenton and Naas Rautenbach together to correct and fill-in gaps or missing background on stories from their many years of bat fieldwork collaboration in southern Africa, both funny and enlighten. Additionally, Brock always makes time to take any new or potential student (in this case Mengjing Wei) wanting to look at studying bats under his wing and share an amazing wealth of knowledge.


Different bat species exiting the cave, while still dusk
Different bat species exiting the cave, while still dusk

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