From time to time, Merlin receives emails from people who want to express their appreciation for his work on behalf of bats. In the spring of 2011, Heidi Cooper-Berry sent him a touching email about a special gift she wanted to plan for her fiancé, Daniel Hargreaves’ 30th birthday–a field trip with Merlin Tuttle. She went on to say, “Daniel is mad about bats, it doesn’t matter what species or where. You and your work have inspired him from a very early age. She offered to fund a trip for Merlin to photograph some of the world’s rarest and most interesting bats with Daniel as his helper. He was enthusiastic about the possibilities but already committed to photographing bats for National Geographic through May 2012.
On his birthday, Daniel received a framed and signed bat photograph from Merlin with a commitment to do a field trip together in 2012. The brainstorming began between the two, starting with a list of “dream bats” Merlin still hoped to photograph.
Daniel’s job with a food processing company often takes him to Thailand for business where he has helped communities with bat conservation efforts, particularly in a village that protects rare painted bats, also known as butterfly bats.
These bats have brilliant orange and black wings that appear to mimic the movement of a butterfly when disturbed during daytime. But according to Daniel, they fly more like a bat at night. We hope to get some photos of these bats in natural leaf roosts, as well as in flight, which will be donated to the community for educational purposes.
Additional trip highlights will include the bumblebee bat, world’s smallest mammal, and the naked bat, the only furless bat, as well as dawn bats pollinating petai, a big-dollar crop in SE Asia. This month-long adventure begins tomorrow, when we meet Daniel for the first time, in Bangkok. And many, many thanks to Heidi for making this possible.