THE mysterious disappearance of fruit bats or flying foxes in Madang in the last couple of months has raised concern among some long-time town residents.
Madang urban LLG ward four (4) councillor, Bonny Simon said Madang town residents are now wondering where the flying foxes have disappeared to in the last couple of months.
“We are sorry because the flying foxes are no longer seen in their usual places on branches of trees along the main road in Madang. This is mysterious,” he said.
Mr Simon said the fruit bats have a special bond with the Madang residents over the years and it is sad that these fruit bats had mysteriously disappeared.
“We are greeted in the morning with the sounds of the flying foxes on trees in our backyard, and in the afternoon they fly off and give the sky a beautiful view,” he said.
Mr Simon said in the past there were hundreds to thousands of them found on trees along Kalibobo Drive and also on leucina trees around town, but the number has dramatically decreased and recently, most trees where they hang are empty and without these flying mammals.
“The flying foxes have a special significance to the locals of Madang, and also a special attachment to long-time residents of Madang” Mr Simon said.
“Madang teams are called ‘Flying Foxes’ and some people called Madang as ‘Fox town’…but am not sure whats the new name would be without these fruit bats around.
“When visitors from the Highlands and other provinces come to Madang, they are usually fascinated at seeing the flying foxes, and now that these bats have gone elsewhere, some of us are very sad.”
The councillor has therefore, called on the Department of Agriculture and Livestock and the National Agriculture Quarrantine and Inspection Authority (NAQIA) to investigate the disappearance of the fruit bats.
Former Madang regional MP and knight, Sir Peter Barter had in the past raised concern regarding the huge number of fruit bats causing havoc to the planes on their approaches to the Madang airport.
He said the fruits bats can be sucked into the engine of the planes and cause problems.
However, the fruit bats have been shot at by locals for their meat and police had used guns to decrease the numbers, but they somehow keep multiplying.
Mr Simon said some Madang residents are in mourning following their mysterious disappearance of the fruit bats and want answers from local authorities or local elders from the Bel area, who are the customary landowners of the Madang town are