Best time to travel to Zanzibar

Pemba Flying Fox Breeding Season in Zanzibar

See a breathtaking sight as these huge bats take to the air, launching off en-masse as they depart for their evening hunt...for fruit

Best time: January–August

Pemba Flying Fox Breeding Season
Pemba Flying Fox Breeding Season
Pemba Flying Fox Breeding Season
Pemba Flying Fox Breeding Season

The Zanzibar archipelago is home to the Pemba flying fox. You can see Africa’s largest bat species only here. It's a type of fruit bat, with a wing span of up to 70cm. This species is distinctive for its bright chestnut-orange fur, dog-like facial features, and can weigh in at around half a kilo.

During the daylight hours, the trees at Pemba are literally smothered by these giants bats hanging upside down. When twilight comes, they take to the air, launching off en-masse as they depart for the evening hunt. Though, the Pemba flying foxes are victims themselves. They were traditionally hunted and eaten widely throughout the island by Pembaris as a source of food. Their meat is considered a delicacy.

The Pemba flying fox's mating is between January and April. In summer, especially between June and August, they give birth to their young. The species was at risk of extinction as a result of hunting and nowadays and is listed as Critically Endangered.

Practical info

When is the breeding season for Pemba flying foxes in Zanzibar?

The young of Pemba flying foxes are born between June and August, which coincides with the breeding season that starts from January to April in Zanzibar. A visit to Zanzibar in the right season is perfect for checking out the creatures in action. Show more

What is the best time of the year to visit Zanzibar to see Pemba flying foxes in action?

Pemba flying foxes can be seen between January and August, which is when these giant bats cover the trees at Pemba Island - the only place where they can be found within the Zanzibar archipelago. Their remarkable launch en-masse to search for food during twilight provides a beautiful view. A visit between January and August guarantees a sighting of these mesmerizing creatures. Show more

Where can I find Pemba flying foxes on the Zanzibar archipelago?

Pemba Island is the only place where Pemba flying foxes can be found within the Zanzibar archipelago. These giant bats hang upside down in the trees throughout daylight hours, with their numbers seemingly covering the trees. When dusk comes, they take to the air to hunt for food. It's an extraordinary sight to behold. Show more

Why were Pemba flying foxes hunted by the locals in the past?

Pemba flying foxes were once a regional delicacy and were hunted intensely by the local population. The fruit bat with a chestnut-orange fur, dog-like facial structure, and half-kilogram size almost went extinct due to the excessive hunting. Now they are listed as Critically Endangered species, and hunting for them is prohibited in Zanzibar. However, a lot still needs to be done to conserve the species for the future. Show more

How has the conservation status of Pemba flying foxes changed over the years?

Pemba flying foxes were not protected and faced extinction after being hunted excessively in the past. Now they are critically endangered largely due to conservation campaigns. Hunting Pemba flying foxes has been declared illegal in Zanzibar. Work is being done to conserve and protect these exceptional creatures by the Zanzibari authorities. Tourists might get the chance to see some of the conservationists working to protect the picturesque Pemba flying foxes. Show more

Ask a question

Find hotels and airbnbs near Pemba Flying Fox Breeding Season (Map)

Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin