Scientists converged on Mamba Point in Monrovia over the weekend to try and sample some of the thousands of fruit bats that have been roosting on the grounds of U.S. Embassy. As many as 100,000 bats are estimated to call Mamba Point home during the dry season, from November through April. The scientists are taking samples to assess the threat of viral and disease transmission among the large population of bats. There is concern that bats may be carriers of viruses, including possibly ebola virus, and since bats are eaten by some Liberians, this constitutes a health concern. The bats are released unharmed after samples taken and data collected.
Other locations and bat species throughout Liberia are included in the study. The fruit bats of Mamba Point, mostly Straw-colored fruit bats, roost in the canopies of palm trees and other large trees in the Mamba Point neighborhood. With the coming rains, they have little protection from the wet and windy weather, and migrate to other locations in Africa to escape these conditions.
Large clouds of bats leave their roosts in the early evening, following the coastline or river channels as they search for flowering and fruiting trees on which to feed. They rely on their excellent sense of smell and large eyes adapted to the darkness. Most return to their roost by sunrise.