AFRICAN BAT CONSERVATION (ABC) is a non profit project under UK charity Conservation Research Africa which conducts applied research, conservation and education to bring bats to the conservation agenda and conserve bat populations in Africa.
Almost a quarter of bats species globally are threatened. Bat populations are declining worldwide and the ecology and status of most African bat species are poorly known. The rapid increase in human populations, with the related habitat loss and degradation poses the most serious threat to bat populations. This is often greatest in countries where people live in rural areas in high poverty. In Africa these threats are crucial with the annual population rising more rapidly than that of any other continent.
Despite high diversity and the importance of bats in to African biodiversity, the ecology and status of most African bat species are poorly known. Habitats in Africa are becoming increasingly disturbed and fragmented, making this region a conservation and research priority. The lack of research on African bat populations both hinders our understanding of the consequences of environmental change, as well as our ability to inform land-use regimes and development, and advise stakeholders at times of increased population pressure.
Based in Malawi, ABC are supported by Central African Wilderness Safaris (CAWS), who provide a research base and logistical support for the ABC scientists in Mvuu Camp, Liwonde National Park. Being based at Mvuu gives CAWS guests the opportunity to join the research team to experience life as a bat researcher monitoring bats in Liwonde National Park. ABC also conducts training and capacity building for CAWS guides in bat ecology and monitoring, based out of the CAWS education centre.
In collaboration with CAWS and HELP-Malawi, ABC will also be conducting community engagement programmes around Liwonde, to assess and mitigate human-bat conflict and raise awareness of the importance of bats and biodiversity.
To date ABC has got off to a fantastic start recording a new species for Malawi Scotophilus leucogaster the white bellied house bat, this species has not yet been recorded in Malawi, and the ABC team are now focusing efforts to find out more about this species and its range in Malawi.