Dedicated Cameraman Lives in a Tree to Film the Annual Migration of 10 Million Fruit Bats in Kenya

While filming the BBC Earth series Mammals, cameraman John Aitchison was so dedicated to his craft that he spent up to three weeks living in a tree so he could capture stunning photos and footage of the annual migration of 10 million African Straw-coloured Fruit-bats at Kasanka National Park in Zambia.

There are 10 million bats and they’re only in the area of a few football pitches. And you don’t really see them during the daytime all together. But when they leave, there’s this extraordinary spectacle really on a different level to any any other view of mammals you will ever get. …

Not only did Aitchison get remarkable images for BBC Earth but he also began to understand the behavior of his many subjects.

So one of the things that turned out to be the case is it’s quite complicated what’s going on in the roost. They’re not randomly distributed through the trees. The males are in one place, the females are in another place, usually, in groups. And when a new bat comes in, it clearly is checking who else is in the group and it’ll land and it’ll crawl about, climb around, come up and have a proper sniff to see if it’s with a bat that it wants to be with.

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.