Fangalobolo

The fangalobolo, meaning “hair snatcher”, due to its alleged behaviour to swoop down and scalp unsuspecting locals, is an enormous bat said to live in the vast caves of Ankarana National Park, only leaving during the night. Fangalobolo’s bodies are five feet long with a seven-foot wingspan, making them larger than the biggest-known bat, the giant crowned flying fox (bottom), with a wingspan of five to six feet. 

Fangalobolos have smooth dark skin with fur only on their chest and head, which is white. They have long claws at the tips of their wings used to eat their prey, typically cattle. Its face is sometimes described as lemur-like with protruding sharp teeth. They are often accused by locals of attacking cows. According to legend, the Antankarana tribe and the Tsimihety tribe were blaming each other for missing cattle in the 1800s. Both tribes then battled each other on a ranch when a fangalobolo swooped down and grabbed a calf out of the sky. Both tribes then fled in fear. 

Another sighting was by a local named Rafeno Zanadrazana who was exploring a cave when he saw a bat that was 10 times the size of the others, spreading its wings over the smaller ones. Zanadrazana interpreted this behaviour as the fangalobolo protecting the normal bats, which he likened to a queen bee -- although it was more likely trying to make itself appear larger and intimidating. After staring at it for 30 seconds, he ran away in fear, knowing that fangalobolos are known to be aggressive. In 1989, the Malagasy minister of culture, Gaoravoana Congo, along with his uncle, claimed to have seen a fangalobolo fly over him. In 2006, Jocelyn Menabe claimed to have seen a fangalobolo in Crocodile Cave, a very large and unexplored cave known for its large crocodile population.

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