Here’s the only local flying fox we saw close up, resting beneath its perch outside a restaurant in the hills between Mt Agung and Ubud.
The lovely golden fur was enough to alert me to the fact that it wasn’t a species we have here in Australia but discovering its identity wasn’t easy: Wikipedia tells us that there are at least 60 species worldwide but few online resources go into any more detail.
In the end I consulted yet another of my Friendly Local Experts (thanks again!) who said it looked like, “Pteropus vampyrus, the common species across Malaysia and Indonesia,” adding that, “the colour on this one is consistent with it being a youngish female; adult males are very dark below, even more so than on upper parts,” and that its two common names in English, Great Flying Fox and Malaysian Flying Fox, are entirely appropriate because this is one of the largest species of flying fox.
As another friend noted, ‘vampire’ is a very unfortunate species name when the animals [already] have enough trouble getting people to love them.
Of course, there’s love and there’s love. In my search I came across a photo on flickr with (avert your eyes!) a recipe attached:
These bats are sold to prepare a local exotic fruitbat soup, prepared as follows :
Place the bats in a large kettle and add water to cover. Add ginger, onion, and salt. Bring to boil and simmer for about 45 minutes. Strain the broth into second kettle. Take out the bats and skin them, discard the skin. Remove the meat from the bones. Return meat and any viscera fancied to the broth.
Heat everything up again. Serve, liberally sprinkled with scallions and seasoned with soy sauce and/or coconut cream.
Before we get too holier-than-thou, however, we should pause to consider that we (some of us, anyway) routinely feed kangaroo meat to our pets and occasionally eat it ourselves, and that our ancestors have hunted and eaten all sorts of wild animals for as long as people have been people – and probably longer.