Bat meat still popular in parts of Indonesia despite virus fears
MANADO, INDONESIA Bat meat is still popular in some parts of Indonesia, despite research suggesting the Covid-19 virus spreading from China might have originated in bats before being passed on to humans.
Bats are traditionally eaten by the Minahasan people from North Sulawesi, Manado, in the form of a curry-like dish called Paniki. Whole bats are used in Paniki, including the head and wings.
"(The virus) has not affected sales," said bat seller Stenly Timbuleng at his stall in the city of Tomohon.
"In fact, sales continue. It is always sold out."
On an average day, Mr Timbuleng sells 50 to 60 bats and during festive periods, he can sell up to 600.
Some glands from the neck and upper body of the bat are removed to eliminate a bad smell. It is then grilled or torched to get rid of the bat's hairs before being chopped and cooked in a stew of herbs, spices and coconut milk.
No case of Covid-19 has been reported in Indonesia, but the outbreak has prompted many Manadonese restaurants in Jakarta to take bats off the menu.
Manadonese Jufry Mantak said the links between Covid-19 and his favourite dish have not put him off.
"We have not found any cases in Manado. Up till now, there are still many people eating these bats. Because bats are good, especially when cooked with coconut milk." - REUTERS