The Ahool was first described by Dr. Ernest Bartels while exploring the
Salak Mountains on the . In 1925 naturalist Dr. Ernest Bartels, (son of ornithologist M.E.G. Bartels), was exploring a waterfall on the slopes of the island of Java when a giant bat, swooped down over his head. Then in 1927, around 11:30 pm, Dr. Ernest Bartels was laying in bed, inside his thatched house close to the Salek Mountains in western Java, listening to the sounds of the jungle when he suddenly heard a very different sound coming from almost directly over his hut, this loud and clear cry seemed to utter, A Hool! Grabbing his torch Dr. Bartels ran out of his hut in the direction the sound seemed to be heading. Less than 20 seconds later he heard it again, a final A Hool! It was the giant bat he encountered 2 years before. Tjidjenkol River
People who have visited the area have questioned the local people about the bat. The people say they have seen it or know of it’s existence and avoid it as they do other large wild animals. The villages are remote and people do not own cameras etc, so no photos have ever been produced.
Bartels accounts of the Ahool were passed to Ivan T. Sanderson by Bernard Heuvelmans, and Sanderson concluded that the Ahool is a form of unclassified bat. Sanderson took an interest in the Ahool because he too had a strange encounter with an unknown giant bat in the
Assumbo Mountains of Cameroon, in Africa. Sanderson thought that the Ahool could be an Oriental form of the giant bat like creature he witnessed in Africa, called the Kongamato.
The biggest known bat today is the Bismark flying fox, which has a wing span of six feet ( almost 2 metres)from wingtip to wingtip The
island of Java, is near the flying fox's home of , so could it be a relative?The other theory about Ahool is that two large earless owls exist on Java, the Spotted Wood-owl (Strix seloputo) and the Javan Wood-owl (Strix (leptogrammica) bartelsi( named after Bartels father)being 16-20 inches (40-50 cms) long and with a wingspan of 4 feet (1.1meters).However one would have thought Bartels would have known what the owls looked like, especially as his father discovered one and also the local people would be familiar with them. With the demise of the rain forests , if these creatures exist, they may have been pushed to extinction, which is a sad thought. New Guinea
See here for the story from Karl Shuker’s book:
Holt, Denver W., Berkley, Regan; Deppe, Caroline; Enríquez Rocha, Paula L.; Olsen, Penny D.; Petersen, Julie L.; Rangel Salazar, José Luis; Segars, Kelley P. & Wood, Kristin L. (1999): Family Strigidae (typical owls). In: del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A. & Sargatal, J. (eds): Handbook of Birds of the World, Volume 5: Barn-owls to Hummingbirds: 76-242, plates 4-20. Lynx Edicions,
. ISBN 84-87334-25-3 Barcelona