ABC is based in Malawi, southern Africa and is working to conserve bats and biodiversity in Malawi and reduce human wildlife conflict.
Malawi is recognized by the IUCN as being of key importance to bat conservation in Africa (Hutson et al. 2001, Microchiropteran bats: global status survey and conservation action plan, IUCN) due to a high species richness (57 bat species) which comprises 30% of the country's mammalian diversity.
Malawi is listed as a World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Global 2000 Ecoregion and lies at the heart of three eco-region categories including the central and eastern Miombo Woodlands (WWF code 88), Zambezi flooded savannas (WWF code 98) and Southern Rift Montane woodlands (WWF code 103). Malawi is recognised of international importance supporting a rich array of endemic species, including some that are restricted to single mountains.
However, this rich biodiversity base is being threatened by an unsustainable rate of exploitation. Conversion to agriculture, firewood collection, wild fires, and invasion by alien species are all real threats. Deforestation is a considerable threat with Malawi losing 2.8% per year, with less than 5% of original forest area remaining (Mickleburgh, Hutson & Racey 2002; Chikuni & Sambo 2006).
Two ABC project sites are highlighted by the IUCN as priority areas for bats and biodiversity conservation in Malawi. They are also important sites for the migratory Straw colored fruit bat (Eidolon helvum), which is Near Threatened and in significant decline (IUCN 2008), and is a key pollinator of the baobab, an economically important tree in the African savannah.
Despite high diversity and the importance of bats in to African biodiversity, the ecology and status of most African bat species are poorly known (Hutson, Mickleburgh & Racey 2001). Habitats in Africa are becoming increasingly disturbed and fragmented, making this region a conservation and research priority.
ABC is working in the following areas:
- Liwonde National Park
- Nyika National Park
- Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve
- Kasungu National Park
- Southern Malawi - on farms and estates around Zomba and Thyolo