Michael Newton, in his cryptozoology book Hidden Animals: A Field Guide to Batsquatch, Chupacabra, and Other Elusive Creatures, devotes five paragraphs to the nocturnal ahool of the island of Java, Indonesia. I’ll summarize key points, adding my own comments.
Java is a large island in area but notable in its huge island population: 124 million humans. Notwithstanding that number, like other areas of land on this planet humans tend to concentrate in small areas: There may be many remote rain forests on Java where volcanoes are common but humans are not so common.
According to traditions and perhaps limited direct encounters, the Salak Mountains of western Java host the ahool population; its name comes from the sound of its cry. It is said to have a twelve-foot wingspan and a covering of hair and a round head with large dark eyes.
The ahool is also said to sleep, in daylight, in caves behind waterfalls, catching river fish at night. Of course, fisherman bats also catch fish, but none of them are known to science to have a wingspan anywhere near twelve feet. The one literal sighting by a Westerner (as if non-Westerners are unreliable eyewitnesses, which is speculative at best) was by Dr. Ernest Bartels, who saw “a huge bat-like creature [that] soared over his head” near a waterfall in the Salak Mountains in 1925. Two years later, he heard the sound that he associated with that creature, but nothing was observed, making it a tenuous connection.
The remainder of Michael Newton’s paragraphs about the ahool involve speculations by Bartels and Ivan Sanderson. If Bartel’s two encounters were all the relevent ones we could rely on, speculations would be the only thing left to talk about; but what about other eyewitnesses of flying creatures in and around Indonesia?
In June of 2008, two experienced plane pilots encountered a large flying creature. On first sight, it was assumed to be another plane, but it soon flapped its wings slowly. A few weeks later, I interviewed both pilot and co-pilot, mostly by emails. This incident was 150 miles southeast of Bali, Indonesia.
I realize that this winged cryptid may have limited relationship with the ahool, but the Orang-bati, with “huge, leathery wings,” may be an undiscovered pterosaur, like the ropen of Papua New Guinea.
Many wonderful eyewitess accounts fill this cryptozoology book: Missionaries and Monsters. The cryptozoologist-explorer William J. Gibbons has done a fine job with it. I found the report of the Orang-bati (a large humanoid-like flying creature in Indonesia) particularly interesting . . .
At least one species of modern pterosaurs may eat bats
To a biologist, bats and pterosaurs have only limited similarity, most obviously featherless-flying. But if they lived together, flying at night, could there be a predator-prey relationship? Yes.
I know a friend of a missionary in the Congo. In one area, pterosaur-like animals are known by the natives, according to the missionary, and he himself believes he saw one swoop down on a tree full of bats, causing the bats to scatter in all directions.
One clue is in the tradition about capturing young humans. Those stories are also found in Papua New Guinea. The indava flying creatures, seen near Tawa Village, deep in the interior of the mainland of PNG, are said to have carried away children and pigs from the villagers, in the past. [This may be a similar species to the Orang-bati.]