Fear has gripped residents of Southern Cell in Masindi Municipality’s Central Division over the invasion of fruit bats to their area.
The residents say that the bats that number in thousands recently found their new home after most of the trees in which they were living for years were felled down at Kirasa Cell in the same Division.
Ms Irene Dania, a resident in the area is unhappy that the bats have polluted the environment fearing to move closer to the trees due to the mammals’ falling droppings.
“They (bats) are too bad. They are screeching a lot, their droppings are reeking, they fall upon people when you are smartly dressed for work. They are destroying people’s property, they have filled trees and environment now looks bad and we are worried. We don’t know what to do. But if it were possible for the authorities to spray against them, it would be better so that they can move away from this place. They are too bad,” she says.
Another resident who identifies himself only as Ben says that although he enjoys the bats’ screeching sound reflecting real nature in existence, he fears the outcome of the mammals’ smelly droppings that fall on his housetop before being washed into his water tank, thus, making the water unclean and unsafe for human consumption.
He fears that such a contaminated water might be a conduit for disease outbreak in the area.
“To me, the sound for these bats is not a problem because there are some times when someone sleeps and feels like enjoying hearing the sound of nature. But the problem is they are spoiling our irons sheets with their poo (formally droppings). Sometimes some of us harvest rain water; so, when it goes into the tank, it is definitely not healthy to take. I used to stay where they were in Kirasa which had been nicknamed Wat-wat (Nubian word for bats) quarters. But I want to tell you, when it rains, they smell so bad and you don’t like keeping near them,” he says.
Mr Vincent Mukonyezi, a motorcycle taxi operator locally known as boda-boda rider in the area says the bats’ droppings have caused a stinking environment at the stage as well as soiling their motorcycle taxis there.
He says such an unbecoming environment has forced passengers to abandon the stage, thus, negatively affecting the operators financially.
Like Mr Ben, Mr Mukonyezi also fears that there might be a disease outbreak in the area as people continue keeping near the bats’ new colony.
He urges the government to intervene.
“They [bats] are dropping their wastes anywhere, they are making a lot of noise and we are not enjoying peace as human beings as boda-boda riders. We urge the municipal authorities to device any means possible to have them off from this stage. Once a passenger comes for a lift and you have not checked the seat, they complain after seeing the droppings there. They are causing us problems.”
In an attempt to drive away the bats, the residents have decided to burn tyres.
However, this has not yet helped.
Ms Dora Kapere, the area Division councillor, says the bats are feeding on fruits including mangoes and avocadoes leaving the residents prone to food insecurity and contracting diseases.
Despite reporting the matter to the relevant authorities, Ms Kapere says she is yet to get a response.
“The problem I see here mainly are the trees. If these trees at least can be cut. School children are at home and we are told that bats transmit Ebola viruses and others and now how are we going to….. We have been told that the environment [National Environment Management Authority-NEMA] does not allow people to kill bats because it is nature. What do we do now?” She asks.
Adding: “Health [officials] are discouraging us from burning the tyres. Even when the smoke goes up [the trees] the mammals are not going away. What do we do now?
We have rushed to the district; they have no help. They are saying we wait for chemicals. [Till] when?” the politician wonders.