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Wildbuzz | Love in a tree bedroom and tulips of Sukhna

At a garden in Panjab University near Ankur School, a huge colony of Indian fruits bats (Indian flying foxes) has established its presence so strongly that the place has been renamed ‘Bat Garden’ or ‘Bat Colony’ in popular lore.

punjab Updated: May 21, 2017 13:44 IST
Vikram Jit Singh
Vikram Jit Singh
Hindustan Times
CAPTION: A pair of Indian fruit bats indulge in love making and copulation at a Panjab University park, Chandigarh.(PHOTOS: ARUN BANSAL)


If one thinks that hanging like fruit bats in mid-air from tree branches would hamper a human-like and vigorous love life, then one should correct his/her assumptions. At a garden in Panjab University near Ankur School, a huge colony of Indian fruits bats (Indian flying foxes) has established its presence so strongly that the place has been renamed ‘Bat Garden’ or ‘Bat Colony’ in popular lore. The colony lends an opportunity for observation of their behaviour, and naturalist Arun Bansal photo-documented a bat pair indulging in foreplay, making love and copulating. Hanging upside down, fruit bats sprinkle urine on themselves to keep summer cool! I will now let Bansal describe in his own words the surprises yielded from his diligent observations of antics in the tree bedrooms!

“Humans enjoy the distinction of achieving missionary position during intercourse and no other animal can do it because they can’t lie on their back. But clutches and hugs were noticed in fruit bats as they need not lie on their back but hang upside down. Remember, bats are not birds but mammals. The other aspect of note was the indulgence in fellatio and cunnilingus. Oral pleasure has been part of human sex life but rarely are other species seen indulging in such acts. It is, however, documented that juvenile bonobo chimpanzees indulge in oral stimulation for play. Oral sex is thought to confer evolutionary benefits on fruit bats. The insertion time may be short but foreplay is quite lengthy in fruit bats. The female bat was noticed performing fellatio even during copulation suggesting that it increases span of intercourse,” Bansal told this writer.

Oral sex has been documented by Chinese researchers in the short-nosed fruit bat also.


CAPTION: Lotuses plucked and out of luck, and those still stuck to the silted bed of the Sukhna lake, make merry in May’s scorching winds. (PHOTOS: VIKRAM JIT SINGH)

If you may brave the scorching winds of deep May, do wander along Sukhna Lake’s regulator end. Mongooses dart hither and thither in the bush, flanking a floral array of immense charm. This is a proliferating acreage of either hybridised lotus or American lotus (Nelumbo lutea), the latter an exotic, alien species original to North America. The cream-white to subtle-yellow blooms appear like giant-sized daffodils, ‘tossing their heads in sprightly dance’ to the infernal winds. And just before lotus buds burst into daffodil-like blooms, they look quite like the forlorn tulips of Srinagar!

The lotus has defied attempts to remove it from the Sukhna as manual workers remove leaves/stalks, leaving roots intact. The forthcoming de-siltation may prove more effective as deep excavation will remove embedded roots. The lotus provides an aesthetic touch to the lake and its parts are edible to humans. But that’s where the good news ends.

Prof Amrik S Ahluwalia of Panjab University’s department of botany is conducting research on Sukhna’s weeds. “The lotus at the Sukhna is not a native species. The lotus species native to India is Nelumbo nucifera and is India’s national flower. The American lotus (or hybridised lotus) has to be removed because it blocks sunlight, stifles native aquatic flora/fauna species and is rapidly colonising the Sukhna. The lotus may, however, suit some flora/fauna species preferring darkness in water,” Prof Ahluwalia told this writer.

Migratory birds do not prefer lotus as their habitat is shallow waters broken by sandy isles and rich in aquatic foods.


AIR POWER: Shikra hunting a Common pigeon. (PHOTO: AMI PRABAL)

The Shikra is an ace hunter of urban gardens but the raptor’s efforts to kill ‘cute and familiar’ prey like squirrels or Common pigeons is on occasion thwarted by humans hell bent upon playing God. Just as the Shikra has cornered the prey, the human rushes to the rescue of the ‘weak’ and ‘gallantly’ saves it from the talons of death. While Shikras have not yet turned vegans and adapted to gobbling ‘aloo-gobi’ instead of fresh flesh and blood, some of our nature lovers do not want to see it that way. Religious and cultural sentiments, or even personal sentiments, overrule the feeding principles of the natural world.

Take for example, the absurdity displayed by a retired biology teacher of Nawanshahr, Balihar Singh, who chased away a Shikra in his garden after the raptor pinned down a pigeon. Or Chandigarh-based nature lover, Arvind Syal, who loves his squirrels and daily feeds them biscuits at the Rose Garden. Syal, too, saved a squirrel from a Shikra and felt mighty pleased!

Were there any thoughts for the Shikra going hungry or having chicks to feed? Or the Shikra’s legitimacy as nature’s ‘balancer’ of bird and squirrel numbers?


First Published: May 21, 2017 13:41 IST