Bats and Ebola
The ebola disease outbreak is really frightening. But, fear should not paralyze us.
World Renew, the organization I work with, is gathering donations to help the people in West Africa. Simple things can be a help: like setting up hand washing stations where people can wash their hands with water with bleach in it, and learn how to disinfect their homes and belongings with bleach. And, health workers need protective equipment. To help as many people as we can we are collaborating with the Christian the Christian Health Association of Liberia (CHAL), Christian Reformed World Missions (CRWM), the Council of Churches in Sierra Leone (CCSL), Christian Extension Services (CES), and the Christian Reformed Church of Sierra Leone. If you would like to help us in this needed work, here is the web site: https://secure3.convio.net/crcna/site/Donation2?df_id=5700&5700.donation=form1&campaign_id=11402
There is a lot to learn about in this ebola story. Part of the story is about bats. Lots of think of them as creepy creatures and almost never see them nor want to see them!
For me, it was an amazing site to see those swirling shapes in Lira, northern Uganda. There must have been thousands of bats hovering over those trees. I wish I had taken a picture, but it was getting dark and we were all tired. (So, the pictures below are some that I’ve found on the internet.) That was back in April. In July I started hearing about the ebola outbreak in West Africa as probably linked to people eating bats, an idea that would have never occurred to me except that I had seen that great swarm of bats in Uganda. Yes, I can see how easy it would be to catch bats or shoot them to eat. Easy pickings!
So, I’ve been reading up on bats in Africa. It turns out that many of the species are fruit bats and, within the amazing ecosystems God has created, these bats pollinate and spread the seeds of as much as 60% of the plants of the forests where they live. They also devour insects. Some of the species migrate more than 1000 miles, following the fruiting seasons of the trees. So, the idea of killing off the bats would be an ecological disaster. If you are interested, see http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/aug/23/ebola-outbreak-blamed-on-fruit-bats-africa
The straw-colored fruit bats could well have been what I saw. Here is picture that shows them flying in good light.