A rather early morning bike ride had led me to into the paddy field between Nyior Cabang and Ulu Melaka. I usually ride on the main road but this morning I was curious to check out the off-roads in between the paddy field area. About less than 200 meters, I arrived at the T-junction and I couldn't decide which turning to take. So, I stop to look at the pipit birds on the ground while two Mat Salleh cyclists came from the other direction. I watched them cycled away towards the main road and I decided to go where they were coming from. About 50 meters, I stopped at the funny looking flowering plant (left).
Soon after, I cycled for another 20 meters and saw the netting set up by the locals. I was silently condemning these netting and then I noticed something black was caught on the net. It was still moving and immediately I knew it was a bat.
I always had my rescue knife with me whenever I am at work and not today...grr..grr...grrr.. I only had a set of bicycle toolkit and that is useless for cutting the net. I tried a sharp rock, didn't work. I tried untangling the net very slowly and only managed one side of it. The other side was badly entangled. I decided to rip the net around it with my bare hands. Finally I did and not feeling guilty at all in leaving a huge hole on the net.
I saw a barn about 100 meters away and a car parked on the other direction. Instead, I decided to cycle towards the barn to look for something to cut the rest of the entangled net on one side of its wing. While still carrying the bat on one hand, suddenly I remembered I left my bicycle toolkit at the scene and decided to turn back. As I was turning back, I decided to get human help by cycling towards the car.
I noticed two old gentlemen (Pakciks) were crouching on the ground looking at the field. I asked them for a cutter and showed them the bat. Both of them didn't have any cutter and one of the pakcik wearing the white cap (kepah) took out his lighter. Ah, a smoker. Probably this is the only time I appreciate having a smoker around. He gently burn off the strings and looked like he had done this before. The bat was in pain and trying to bite when removing the last bit that wrapped around the bony joint of its wing. I had to hold the other side of its wing and pull its head so the bat doesn't bite the finger of the helper.
Finally, it was released! The bat hobbled on the ground for a couple of seconds before it took off into the air. We watched it flew away towards the hill until it was out of sight. Hope that this bat will survive after the struggling and exhaustion. I was so excited of its release that I didn't get to take the full picture of the bat. Aiya! oh well...
This bat is identified as a common fruit bat. The closest species I can identify is it may be Short-nosed Fruit Bat (Cynopterus spp.). Fruit bats are important dispersers of many pioneer forest trees, thus aiding forest regeneration after disturbance. These fruit bats breed throughout the year in Malaysia, mainly when food is most abundant.
Glad to know that are lovely local people around. These pakciks are the owners of the paddy field. After a quick chat with them, I thanked the bat saviour, particularly the pakcik on the left. I headed towards the barn and it was a good thing that I didn't go there because there were only cows inside.
Reference: A Photographic Guide to Mammals of South East Asia by Charles M.Francis