Volunteer with us to help bats and biodiversity

bats flying

How you can help

Bat are considered as pests in Malawi and are actively persecuted. They are not protected even in National Parks and are not considered in conservation management plans. Volunteers can play a vital role in helping us to achieve our aims. We need as much help as we can get to make a difference for bats and biodiversity in Africa, we are a small team with a big task ahead. In return it is our hope that volunteers will enjoy volunteering with us, meet like-minded people and develop some new skills. We are conducting a national monitoring programme as well as conducting a number of smaller research projects about bats and biodiversity. Your time as a volunteer will be spent assisting ABC scientists with field research, community education and awareness including bat trapping and acoustic monitoring, creating a guide to bats in Malawi, roost surveys, habitat assessments, insect sampling, small mammal monitoring, and radio tracking bats (at specific times of year).

Why volunteer with us?

Dr Stone

Work with trained scientists - ABC is led and founded by Dr Emma Stone, an expert bat scientist from the University of Bristol, UK. Emma has been conducting research on bats since 1998 whilst working in the remote Kafue National Park in Zambia. She is a member of the internationally renowned Bat Ecology and Bioacoustics Research Lab at the University of Bristol, where she completed her PhD thesis on bats in the UK. Emma has been conducting applied conservation research for over 16 years particularly in Africa. This is a unique opportunity to work remotely under Dr Stone's supervision and her experienced Research staff, to assist in applied conservation research and community conservation.

liwonde shire

Unique bush experience in the heart of Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve and Nyika National Park - volunteering with us gives you an unique opportunity to work in a remote unspoilt African wilderness with very few visitors, untouched by mass tourism like Kenya and Tanzania. The ABC research camp is located at Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve. Living in camp you will be on permanent safari, with regular visits to camp by elephants, hippos, warthogs and monkey. Our "office" is an African paradise.

Epauletted fruit bats

Unique project - we provide a unique opportunity to work with bats and biodiversity research in Africa. There are very few projects working with bats in Africa, and even fewer opportunities to volunteer. Not much is known about African bats, and Malawi is estimated to have over 64 species! This makes your experience even more exciting as we are in unchartered territory in bat research, waiting to discover weird and wonderful new things about bats in Malawi. We are unlike many of the other volunteer opportunities in Africa in that we provide a unique opportunity to work alongside qualified scientists as they conduct novel research on previously unstudied species.

Gain new skills, build your CV and develop your career - during your placement you will have the opportunity to gain many new skills including field research techniques such as bat trapping, mist netting and bat handling, acoustic surveys, small mammal trapping and handling, insect trapping and habitat surveys. You can also gain lab based skills including acoustic identification of bats, call analysis, GIS, and insect display/storage.

Dr Stone Dr Stone

 

 

 

 

 

 

Project Location

Volunteers will be based at the ABC research camp in Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve (VMWR) and from here we conduct satellite field trips to our other research bases in Nyika National Park and Kasungu NP and surrounding areas.

Dr Stone

Camp is rustic but very comfortable with canvas safari tents on wooden platforms, equipped with beds, mattresses, linen, comfy sofas and generator/solar power, flushing toilets and working showers.

Our camp consists of a number of staff safari tents, along with two large volunteer tents on wooden platforms; female and male. Each volunteer tent sleeps 4-6 comfortably. Our main building , the Research Centre, houses our office, lab and kitchen.

Each week we head into the local town to get our groceries, giving volunteers the opportunity to experience local village life and engage with local communities. liwonde shire

The reserve harbours an abundant wildlife population including elephant, leopard, hyaena, reedbuck, waterbuck and sable, hippo, buffalo, zebra, roan and eland. 

Epauletted fruit bats

 

 

 

 

 

 

What you will be doing?

We conduct a variety of research, community education and awareness activities, not just involving bats. This gives volunteers the opportunity to get involved and gain skills in a diversity of activities including:

  • Field research: bat trapping and acoustic surveys, GIS mapping, insect trapping and pinning, vegetation and habitat sampling.
  • Roost surveying and monitoring.
  • Community education and awareness activities, marketing and fundraising.

bat in handWe conduct surveys throughout the park, so we travel to field sites to sample the biodiversity most evenings. This involves setting bat, small mammal and insect traps, and conducting vegetation surveys. Daytime hours are spent sorting out equipment, processing and pinning all insect samples and logging all data and acoustic records.

We also work in the local communities to conduct roost surveys and carry out questionnaire surveys to establish community understanding of bats and biodiversity. This involves working in the rural villages surrounding the park along with our experienced Community Outreach Officer.

Interested? Here's how to apply

Download our volunteer information pack here for more information about volunteer placements.

To book a volunteer placement you can download the application form here and email it to us at volunteer@africanbatconservation.org or you can also email us for a copy of the application form. We will then contact you to confirm receipt of your application, confirm dates and costs and send you a detailed volunteer pack to give you all the extra information you need before arriving.

Of course feel free to email Richard our dedicated volunteer coordinator with any questions at volunteer@africanbatconservation.org



Key facts

  • Duration: 2 to 6 weeks (longer stays are also possible, please get in touch)
  • Requirements: age 18+, and in good health
  • Location: Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve, Malawi
  • Activities: Field Research, marketing, education, community engagement: including bat mist netting and harp trapping, vegetation surveys, habitat assessments, small mammal trapping, insect trapping, data collation; Community Surveys and questionnaires
  • Student project opportunities? Yes especially MSc and PhD
  • Arrival airport: Lilongwe International
  • Dates: We take volunteers at any time of year, but we discourage start dates in the week of Christmas/New Year

Costs

The costs of volunteering vary according to how long you stay and include a donation to the project. Extensions to booked placements can be arranged at the project but are subject to availability. Minimum required stay is 2 weeks (due to the travel time to site). If you are interested in volunteering please download the information pack and application form above and email us at:

volunteer@africanbatconservation.org

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How you can help

Find out how you can help by volunteering, making a donation, or sponsoring here.