I discover them the morning I arrive at Shompole, when I’m escorted to my private sleeping loggia, which can’t quite be called a room because it has no walls. The sheets on my king-size bed are freshly ironed, eucalyptus-scented, and cooled by a solar-powered fan, but all that separates them from the surrounding landscape—a sweeping panorama of East African veld, thorny scrub, and sky—is a framed cube of mosquito netting and a steep thatched roof.
A riot of squeaking and fluttering ensues from above as I heft my suitcase onto the bed. I look up, and there they are: about a dozen small, mouse-colored bundles suspended from the rafters like crumpled handkerchiefs. As I watch, one bundle twitches and extends a long filmy wing before rewrapping itself.
“The bats are good,” says David, a tall young Masai I meet in the main lodge, when I describe my unexpected bunkmates. “They are yellow long-eared bats. Vesper bats. That means they eat mosquitoes.”