BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Languages
Last Updated: Monday, 14 February, 2005, 16:41 GMT
Droppings drive Accra batty
Fruit bat
The bats are believed to have followed a tribal leader into the city
Residents of Ghana's capital Accra have been struggling to cope with the arrival of a colony of fruit bats in the city centre - in particlular the mess caused by their droppings, known as guano.

The creatures' human neighbours have been forced to adapt to stop problems such as fouled cars, falling tree branches and shrieking ruining their lives.

William Ameka, a listener to BBC World Service's Outlook programme, explained he first began to realise the problem when the mess forced him to wash his sister's car every night.

"It seems we are fighting a losing battle," Mr Ameka said.

Fouling risk

Legend has it that these noisy and messy bats arrived as an escort to a sick tribal chief.

Although the chief later died, the bats remained.

The guano problem is made worse becuase the district they are occupying is next to the 37 military station city centre hospital - the sudden sound of ambulance sirens causing the bats to panic, producing more mess.

Hosptial authorities themselves have tried to deal with the problem by scrapping their painted walls, and covering them with an easily-washable substance.

But residents also complain that the risk of fouling means they cannot dry their clothes on washing lines, or dare to sit under trees.

Indeed, last year the old branches of trees were taken away as too many bats were sitting on them, causing them to fall.

"They're not harmful, but they hang outside your house," one resident told Outlook.

Vehicles in Accra
Accra's residents find vehicles and buildings need constant washing
"They keep on disturbing you. You can't even sleep... if you get the chance, just move out of this place," the resident added.

Gerald Boache, a worker for Ghana's Wildlife Society has said that more needs to be found out about the bats to deal with them properly.

"Rather than just knowing them because they defacate on us and our cars, we need to understand them," he told Outlook.

He explained that when the bats first arrived, the army based at the hospital had tried to deal with them by shooting - but this had simply made the problem worse.

"Populations demand that after big disasters - war, a tsunami, whatever - the mammals start to reproduce," he said.

"So after every shooting incident, they multiply - it gives them more room to increase their populaiton, and even more reason to think that this is their home."

Other ways that Accra's residents have tried to control the bats have included climbing up trees to stab them, trapping them, and shooting with catapaults.

"We don't like thjat - it is actually very arrogant," Mr Boache said.

"There's no law [that says] we can just go and catch them."

BBC World Service's Outlook programme is continuing to investigate listener's problems. Click on the link above if you have an issue you would like the programme to investigate.




Name:
Email address:
Town and Country:
Phone number (optional):
Comments:

The BBC may edit your comments and cannot guarantee that all emails will be published.

SEE ALSO:
Flying fox favours tunnel vision
04 Sep 04 |  Science/Nature
New help for threatened bats
04 Mar 05 |  Sci/Tech
Bats get an unfair press
21 May 99 |  Health



PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | World | UK | England | Northern Ireland | Scotland | Wales | Politics
Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health | Education
Have Your Say | Magazine | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific