News & Project Updates

ABC COVID-19 Statement

(Download the ENGLISH VERSION statement as a PDF here)

(Download the CHICHEWA VERSION statement as a PDF here).

As efforts here in Malawi are being enforced to prevent further spread of the novel human coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and associated Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). African Bat Conservation would like to provide some facts* on COVID-19 and bats.

  1. Bats do not spread Corona Virus it is being transmitted from humans to other humans.
  1. There is no evidence that bats directly infected humans with SARS-CoV-2.

Currently, we do not know exactly how the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen jumped from animal to human. Research released on January 23rd, 2020 on by Chinese researchers at Wuhan Institute of Virology shows that that SARS-CoV-2 pathogen shares 96% of its genome with SARS-like coronaviruses (Zhou et al. 2020). Bats, specifically Rhinolophid (Horseshoe) bats in China, are the natural wildlife reservoirs for SARS-like coronaviruses, even though another “intermediate” species could have been involved with direct transmission to people (Lam et al. 2020). Many animals carry coronaviruses and are potential sources of infection.

  1. Killing of bats will not have any effects on the spread of SARS-CoV-2.

There have been numerous reports that communities and governmental authorities in several regions of the world have been culling bats in a misplaced effort to combat the disease. However, culling of bats and their criticism during this pandemic are wrong. Exterminating bat roosts won’t do anything to reduce the risk and we cannot try to eliminate the risk by exterminating wild animals.

  1. Bats provide enormous benefits including pollination, seed dispersal and agricultural insect pest control, worth billions of dollars annually. Killing of bats would adversely affect the conservation status of bat populations and their associated benefits for humans.


  1. Bats carrying coronaviruses and undisturbed by people are not a threat to human health. Studies have shown that a number of bat species, especially in the tropics, are reservoirs for viruses and other pathogens that may cause emerging infectious diseases in people, such as Nipah virus, SARS and Ebola. However, these viruses have emerged largely due to human activities that alter the environment and bring bats, people, and livestock into closer contact.  This may happen where people are increasingly encroaching on bat habitat, for example through deforestation or where bats are hunted and eaten.

There are some 1,400 bat species living in the wild around the world. Many have adapted to urban environments, and have been living in backyard gardens, roofs, urban parks and even roosting under bridges, without posing the slightest threat to their human neighbours.

The Chief Executive of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), explained that: "The most urgent action needed to combat SARS-CoV-2 is to stop its transmission, which is from humans to humans. In the longer term, we need to examine and stop specific human practices and uses of wild animals, and the widespread destruction of natural habitats, in order to prevent another such terrible event in the future."
*These facts are based on those prepared by Bat Conservation International, Bat Conservation Trust, the Secretariats of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), the Agreement on the Conservation of Populations of European Bats (EUROBATS),  the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) and the EcoHealth Alliance.
Lam T, Shum M, Zhu H, Tong Y, Ni X, Liao Y. et al. Identification of 2019-nCoV related coronaviruses in Malayan pangolins in southern China. BIORXIV. 2020 doi: 10.1101/2020.02.13.945485.
Zhou P, Yang XL, Wang XG, Hu B, Zhang L, Zhang W, A pneumonia outbreak associated with a new coronavirus of probable bat origin. Nature. 2020.





ABC SELLING HOMES FOR BATS - buy our sustainable Bat boxes

We had our first stall at the monthly farmers market at Woodlands, Lilongwe this morning, selling wooden bat boxes and bat guano to be used as fertiliser. Each bat box has been carefully hand-made for African Bat Conservation by a local carpenter in Lilongwe, using sustainable, non-native timber.

It was a fantastic morning and a good turn out! The bat boxes proved very popular and generated a lot of interest. It was wonderful to chat to people about the work we do, and to let people know how to help bats by putting up boxes in their garden. With so much deforestation and increased development taking place, bats are losing their homes at an alarming rate. A wooden bat box can provide a suitable alternative resting place for bats and encourage them into areas where there are few natural roosting opportunities such as crevices in trees and buildings.

Do you live in Lilongwe and want to buy a bat box and help bats? Some of our specially made bat boxes will be appearing very soon at Four Seasons Nursery in Lilongwe. Alternatively, you can always place an order for boxes or some of our bat guano fertiliser by getting in touch through our Facebook page, or by visiting our website


Exciting new Bat species for ABC!

Last week our urban bat team caught Epomops dobsonii (Dobson's Epauletted Fruit Bat) in Lilongwe Nature Sanctuary. Dobson's Epauletted fruit bat is a massive bat weighing 150g and with a forearm length of 91cm!


The photo on the left shows a Dobson's Epauletted fruit bat on the left and Wahlberg's Epauletted fruit bat on the right for comparison.

Our team were very excited to catch him and we believe this is the first record of one in Malawi since 1982, with only 3 previous records in the country. Certainly a first for Lilongwe!

We are very happy to wrap up work in the city for Christmas having caught 15 bat species in the city since the project began in September 2016. Here's to more success in 2017 too!

(Updated 19/12/2016)

(Updated 14/12/2016)


New vacancies!

Science Communication and Marketing Assistant

January 2017 start for 8 months +

CRA are recruiting for a Science Communication and Marketing Assistant to assist us in developing the public profile and outreach of CRA and all the projects under it; ABC, CRM and UWP. The position is primarily based at our research office in the capital city Lilongwe with some time spent at our research camps in Liwonde and Kasungu National Parks.

If you are interested then download an application pack and also an application form and send it to

(Advertised 2/12/2016. Closed when position is filled)


Another new species to Liwonde park!

The ABC Liwonde team have caught yet another new bat to the park!

Scotophilus nigrita, the giant yellow house bat, is a huge house bat with a forearm length up to 80cm long - nearly twice that of the more common white-bellied and the yellow house bats!

There is very little data on this species. It is thought to be sparsely distributed with, until now, no records of it's echolocation calls and virtually nothing known about its roosting or habitat preferences.

Another exciting find for ABC!

(Updated 23/02/2016)








new bat to Liwonde caught by ABC team!

The Liwonde NP ABC research team have just 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,aswellas being described as a mountain dwelling species.

(Updated 27/01/2016)



Dr Stone co-publishes paper on bats and churches

Mitigating the Impact of Bats in Historic Churches: The Response of Natterer’s Bats Myotis nattereri to Artificial Roosts and Deterrence by Matt R. K. Zeale, Emily Bennitt, Stuart E. Newson, Charlotte Packman, William J. Browne, Stephen Harris, Gareth Jones and Emma Stone has just been published on PLOS One Open Access!

(Updated 27/01/2016)


ABC discovers another new bat species for Malawi!



Mimetillus thomasi has been confirmed as the species found at two survey sites in Liwonde National Park during the 2015 cold dry and hot dry season. 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 it has been sparsely recorded. It's 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 so this is an exciting discovery!

Now the wet season is upon us the research team are expecting some more exciting finds in the park and surrounding villages.

(Updated 15/12/2015)


BookChapter by Dr Stone in new book!

Emma Stone's co-authored chapter: Dark Matters: The Effects of Artificial Lighting on Bats can be read in a newly published book!

Bats in the Anthropocene: Conservation of Bats in a Changing World is open access and can be read and downloaded here

(Updated 10/12/2015)


ABC assist local school with bat roost!Mlambe School

This month the ABC team visited Mlambe Primary School outside Liwonde National Park to help with a bat roost in the walls of their classroom. The roost turned out to include two species of free-tailed bats, also known as ‘bulldog bats’ because of their wrinkled upper lip! The colony of over 40 Angolan (Mops condylurus) and the White-bellied (Mops niveiventer) free-tailed bats have been roosting in the primary school walls for nearly one year. This is the first capture of the White-belled free-tailed that ABC has had in Malawi, and a first for the Liwonde area. We are now working with the school to minimise the impact the bats are having on the lessons by blocking their inside access but still allowing the colony to live in the wall and access the space from the outside. The team are also creating bat leaflets for the staff and the school children in Chichewa and will return to give a lesson on bats and how having them living in their school is beneficial to reducing mosquito and insect pest numbers.

(updated 01/10/2015)


Satemwa bats and farms projects final harvest!Satemwa


The bats and farms research experiment at Satemwa tea and coffee estate in Thyolo district is being wrapped up by our bat researchers as the final harvest takes place. The project would not have been possible without our 12 dedicated harvesters and guards. We are looking to roll this experiment out to more crops over the next year.


(updated 07/09/2015)


new ABC Researcher

Catherine and Matt


We say a sad goodbye to our Research Assistant Catherine, who helped to set up the bats and farms research at Satemwa tea and coffee estate, and for the past month led the bat surveying in Liwonde NP. All the ABC team wish Catherine the best in her future research work!

But we welcome Matt Town, who has already been carrying on the research in Satemwa for 8 weeks and is about to relocate to Liwonde to lead the hot dry season bat surveying.


(updated 28/08/2015)


Bats and Roads: Dr Stone's chapter in new handbook

Handbook of Road Ecology

A new book, the Handbook of Road Ecology, provides solutions to wildlife and infrastructure issues, ensuring that if adopted, the future transportation networks can achieve economic growth while avoiding or minimising the negative ecological and environmental outcomes.

Our founder, Dr Emma Stone, has coauthored chapter 34: Bats and Roads This book is available free to all practitioners from developing countries. Apply here.

(updated 17/07/2015)




Yet another new bat species recorded!

ABC have discovered another new bat species to Malawi! Lissonycteris species

The roost of approx. 51 individual Lissonycteris bats was found on the Satemwa tea and coffee Estate in the highlands of Malawi in April.

The bats had been known to the estate for decades, but only since ABC started the research have they been confirmed to be a Lissonycteris species. Until DNA results are confirmed, we’re not yet sure if the species is L. angolensis, the Angolian soft-furred fruit bat, or L. goliath, Harrison’s soft-furred fruit bat.

L. angolensis is known to have a range across the Central African rainforests and it is predicted to occur in Northern Malawi, but not as far south as the Highlands.

L. goliath is only known to occur in the highlands of eastern Zimbabwe and central Mozambique, and nothing is known about its roosting habits. This species is categorised as ‘vulnerable’ because of its small range.

The males of both these soft-furred fruit bats have glands on the throat giving the hairs a sticky feel. Male fruit bats usually these glands to mark out their territory by rubbing branches with the strong musky scent produced by them. A dominant male may also use this scent to anoint females that share his roosting or feeding territory, to deter other males from mating with them.

Keep an eye out in the next few weeks for news of the DNA results to confirm the species! (updated 13/07/2015)


ABC records a new bat species for malawi!

Scotophilus leucogaster

After commencing the standardised trapping surveys in ernest, the ABC team have quickly discovered a new bat species for Malawi. The beautiful White-bellied house bat (Scotophilus leucogaster).

To date only recorded in northern south Africa, southern Mozambique, southern Zimbabwe, and a separate population in Northern Zimbabwe, Central Mozambique, and Southern Zambia. We are now conducting specific studies to find out more about the distribution, roosting and foraging ecology of this species in Malawi.

Go ABC, more to come surely.  (updated 11/09/2014)

(pictured left to compare size and colour to S. viridis)


Fruit bats galore in Liwonde

little epauletted fruit bat

We are lucky enough to be catching plenty of fruit bats here in Liwonde, including some Little epauletted fruit bats. There are plenty around bat camp most evenings, making surveys much easier!

little epauletted fruit bat

updated 21/08/2014





Survey at Kuti Wildlife Reserve reveals stunning little freetailed bats!

little freetailed bats

We spent a night sampling at kuti wildlife reserve near Salima in Malawi. We had a successful night catching little freetailed bats which were roosting in the main reception building at Kuti.

These bats were stunning having white armpits and transparent wings! We caught five bats in total, by hand and harp trap.

Samples of droppings were taken for genetics analysis by MSc Student Isabel from Copenhagen University, to identify their diet.

We will be conducting many more surveys at Kuti in the future so watch this space. sampling little freetailed bats sampling







ABC has a new Facebook page!

find us on facebook You can now keep up to date with project activities and progress on our new Facebook page. Find us on Facebook and 'like' our page.


New African Bat Network Launched


African bat researchers and conservationists joined together February 15 to create Bat Conservation Africa, an network dedicated to conserving bats throughout the vast continent. Bat Conservation Africa was launched by 30 bat specialists from 19 African nations during the first African Bat Conservation Summit in Naivasha, Kenya.

Click here to read the press release.

New African Bat Book


A new book on African bats has been published. Bats of Southern and Central Africa (2010) is authored by African bat experts Ara Mondajem, Peter Taylor, Woody Cotterill, and Corrie Schoeman. It includes chapters on the evolution, biogeography, ecology and echolocation of bats, and provides accounts for the 116 bat species known to occur in southern and central Africa. Pick up your copy here.


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