Fruit Bats: Dark Poachers

   Just as the scent of flowers in bloom attracts bees, so the sweet smell of ripe fruit on the night air beckons the hawk-sized fruit bats of tropical Asia. Leaving their roosts at dusk, they fan out, sometimes as far as 50 miles, testing the air with keen noses. When they find fruit, they descend, squabbling among themselves, and begin to gorge in the manner of the bat below. At dawn they fly back the way they came.
   Where the bats interfere with agriculture, as they increasingly are doing, they are hunted as pests. De­spite this and their low birth rate—only one off-spring a year—they persist in great numbers. The reasons are threefold: the bats are quite long-lived, they are relatively free of predators, and their mobility allows them to sidestep the thrust of civilization.