Bat Guano Guardian Project
ABC has identified a number of roosts around Lilongwe including a roost of around 800 leaf-nosed and horseshoe bats in a barn at Kumbali Lodge. Towards the end of September we responded to information about a “bat farm” on the outskirts of Lilongwe. The bat farm turned out to be a primary school full of free tailed bats which live in multiple buildings on site.
The Head Teacher has taken the initiative of collecting guano in old maize sacks and giving it away for free to local farmers to fertilise their crops. There is some conflict with the bats because of noise and smell. This has instigated our Bat Guardian Guano Project. We are working with this school and other roost owners to facilitate the use of bat guano as a fertiliser, giving leaflets (click here for the Chichewa version) to promote use and explaining the benefits of using guano.
This project promotes coexistence between bats and communities and is a win-win for bat conservation, improving livelihoods whilst promoting bat conservation. We have also established a partnership with Richard Carpenter from The University of Reading to conduct agricultural research. In partnership with Richard we are conducting field trials at four sites across Malawi to test the impact of using guano as a soil amendment on maize crop yields.
Field trial results will be used as evidence to persuade people to conserve bats and utilize guano in place of artificial fertilizer helping to change attitudes towards bats.