Exciting new discoveries from African Bat Conservation

Congratulations to our partners over at African Bat Conservation who have made some exciting discoveries over the last six months in Liwonde National Park.

During the 2015 cold dry and hot dry season, the ABC team identified a species of bat previously unknown to exist in Malawi, Mimetillus thomasi, or Thomas’s flat-headed bat, found at two survey sites in the park. This bat is in the vespertilionidae family and has a distinctive broad flattened skull as well as translucent finger membranes. There are only 14 specimens in museums, and although already known from Zinave National Park in southern Mozambique, Zambia and adjoining parts of the DRC, and central Angola, no records have come from Malawi before.

Another new bat to the park is Scotophilus nigrita, the giant yellow house bat, a huge house bat with a forearm length up to 80cm long – nearly twice that of the more common white-bellied and yellow house bats! There is very little data on this species and it is thought to be sparsely distributed with, until now, no records of its echolocation calls and virtually nothing known about its roosting or habitat preferences.

The Liwonde National Park ABC research team also recently caught and identified three individuals of Myotis welwitschii – Welwitsch’s myotis – in open mopane woodland. Although this species is already known to Malawi, it is a new species for the park and is sparsely distributed across south-eastern Africa, as well as being described as a mountain dwelling species.

African Bat Conservation 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.  Find out more about their work.