I read in a paper by Enwistle and Corp (1997) that the Pemba Flying Foxes like roosting in graveyards – and I can now understand exactly why! There is a graveyard in most villages, and it is the only place which is usually completely undisturbed. The people here believe that if they disturb the graveyard and cut the trees, they are disturbing their ancestors sleep. The graveyards are an absolute heaven for animals as we have discovered as it is here that we have met chameleons, snakes, and most of our bats and monkeys. The trees are so tall, thick in foliage and covered in climbers – that they resemble green skyscrapers, and the whole graveyard is like a fantastic green city.
Unfortunately because these graveyards are so close to human habitation they are still subject to some disturbance. Agriculture and plantations often reach right up to the graveyard edge with no buffer zone. The bats are protected in these areas and are also in a great position for finding fruit where people are planting them, but it’s uncertain how long these graveyards will remain undisturbed.
Typical village graveyard acts as a wildlife refuge
Photo J. Robinson