In class the other day, as I was trying to explain the indefinite and definite articles in Spanish, one of my Year 7 pupils put his hand up and asked if I had seen the bat in the Kazakh department.
Apparently, during the lesson one had flown in and caused chaos in the classroom. Not that I would normally let the pupils distract me so easily from a lesson, I replied this time saying that I hadn’t seen the bat and that if pupils were to see one they should keep well away. I told them this as it reminded me of an incident back in my school in Almaty.
One Spring afternoon, a bat somehow had made it’s way into the security office at school and caused all of the, supposedly, tough security guards to flee the room and shut the door. The Deputy Headmaster was called to review the situation.
He said he would capture the bat himself, walked into the room and promptly got bitten on the thumb.
The year before, there had been two incidents in Shymkent (Southern Kazakhstan) of rabies after people had been bitten by bats, therefore he rushed to the hospital to get medicine to prevent the disease.
Unfortunately, when he got there the doctors told him that there were a set of injections he needed and that although they had the last 4 in stock they didn’t have the first one he needed anywhere in Kazakhstan. Frantically, he bought a ticket back to the UK and flew back immediately, to be met at the airport with a doctor, with the necessary injection in his hand! It appears that bats carry a certain strain of the rabies virus. He was luckily unaffected and suffered no ill effects.
In the UK there is a drive to protect bats as their numbers have been rapidly declining over the last century. Recently, my friend and her husband have become involved with an organisation which is trying to raise awareness of bats and their conservation, and spend summer evenings lying in fields and on cliff tops bat counting.
On the first evening, we found an injured bat in the grounds of the hall. Our group leaders made a rather amusing rendition of the batman tune and called a registered bat expert, from such an organisation as the Bat Conservation Trust, to come and tend to the bat. We were told not to touch the bat (now I know why) and carefully checked it and placed it in a tree. Whatever he did, seemed to work, as the bat had flown away by the next morning.
Walking past the drama studio on Tuesday, I looked in to see something flying around. Another bat! This one was rather stupid and flew head first into the drama studio mirrors killing itself instantly. Not wanting to go anywhere near it, I called the security. I explained that there was a bat in the studio. He took a look, went to the nearest cupboard returning with a spade. It would appear he was going to kill it but as this was no longer necessary he scooped it up and tossed it into the nearby wasteland. It would seem they do not have the same ideas about bat conservation, as we do in the UK.