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 leading bat scientists

ABC is led and founded by Dr Emma Stone, an expert bat scientist from the University of Bristol, UK. Emma is a member of the internationally renowned Bat Ecology and Bioacoustics Research Lab at the University of Bristol, where she completed her PhD on UK bats. Emma has published in high impact journals on the effectiveness of bat licensing in England, mitigation of human bat conflict using radar and lighting, impacts of roost exclusions on bats, and impacts of lighting on bats (see publications page). Emma has Class 4 Bat License and can act as a sponsor for UK bat license applications.

ABC works in close collaboration with the University of Bristol and Professor Gareth Jones, who is a Scientific Advisor for ABC, Cardiff University (Professor Jo Cable), Nottingham Trent University UK (Dr Richard Yarnell, CRA Trustee), and the University of Southampton (Dr Orly Razgour).  We offer a unique opportunity to work on an existing research project, alongside established internationally renowned research scientists and assist in applied conservation research and community conservation.

liwonde shire


You have a choice of camps with ABC from bush to lakeshore, all giving you a diverse range of bat research and conservation experience, and also a chance to explore the diversity of culture and environment that Malawi is famous for.


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.

Epauletted fruit bats


With ABC you will have the opportunity to gain many new skills including
field research techniques including bat mist netting, bat handling, wing punch sampling, acoustic surveys, emergence counts, mitigation work, endoscope work, internal roost surveys, insect trapping & pinning, vegetation surveys and radio tracking (only at certain times of year). You can also gain lab based skills including acoustic identification of bats, call analysis and GIS.



If you are pursuing a career in bat research or consultancy you can gain specific skills which can take many years to obtain in Europe including:  bat handling, internal roost visits, use of SM3/4 acoustic detectors, harp trapping, mist netting, ringing and wing punch collection; all of which contributes to a bat license in England or Wales. Dr Stone holds a Natural England bat license and would be happy to provide references to augment your Bat License application in England and Wales.  



ABC conducts bat research and conservation from three locations.

VWAZA MARSH WILDLIFE RESERVE - Bat research in the heart of the African bush!

Working with us gives you a unique opportunity to work in a remote unspoilt African wilderness with very few visitors, untouched by mass tourism as found in Kenya and Tanzania. The main ABC research centre is based in Vwasa Marsh Wildlife Reserve (VMWR) and shared with the primate and elephant research team from Lilongwe Wildlife Trust. From here we conduct satellite field trips to our field research sites in Nyika National Park (NNP), Kasungu NP (KNP), the northern shores of Lake Malawi and forest reserves in Northern Malawi.



Camp is rustic but very comfortable with canvas safari tents on platforms, equipped with beds, mattresses, linen, and solar power, long drop toilets and bucket showers. Our camp consists of a number of staff safari tents, along with two large volunteer tents on platforms; female and male. Each volunteer tent sleeps 6-8 comfortably. Our main building, the Research Centre, houses our dining area, lounge, and kitchen.

Dr Stone

The reserve harbours an abundant wildlife population. Camp overlooks the Kazuni river which recieves daily visits from a diversity of wildlife. In camp you will be on permanent safari, with regular visits to camp by elephants, warthogs and baboons.  

Dr StoneCamp




Working with us gives you a unique opportunity to work along the beautiful shores of Lake Malawi from our Lifuwu Research Camp. Our camp is located on the Lake hosted by Kumbali Lakeshore Retreat. We have a small thatched bungalow, with solar showers and a long drop toilet. Food is provided by Kumbali and you get the chance to enjoy the lake during your time off, including snorkelling, kayaking and diving.

CONSERVATION RESEARCH CENTRE - Lilongwe City, bat research in the middle of urban Africa


2018 is an exciting year for ABC as we partner with Natures Gift Ltd and Kumbali Lodge to create a Conservation Research Centre (CRC) just outside Lilongwe nestled in the native woodlands near State House. The CRC is fully equipped to serve as the base of all our research and conservation actvities in country. At the CRC we can accommodate up to 30 volunteers and students, have a lab space, education centre, and teaching space. From the CRC you get a chance to experience urban bat conflict work, the hub of urban African city life and the cultural experiences of working in local communities. We conduct survey sites in city parkland, gardens, and along the riverine habitats of the Lilongwe and Lingadzi rivers that run through the city.  In November 3000 straw coloured fruit bats arrive in Lilongwe and you get a chance to conduct colony counts on this important species.

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, ringing, wing punch sampling, GIS mapping, insect trapping and pinning, vegetation and habitat sampling.
  • Roost work: internal surveys, endescope work, roost mitgation work, emergence surveys and acoutsic monitoring.
  • Community work: public and schools based education, awareness and outreach activities.

bat in handWe conduct surveys throughout Malawi, 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 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 us with any questions at volunteer@africanbatconservation.org

Key facts

  • Duration: 2 to 12 weeks (lvolunteer) or up to 9 months (for placements or project students)
  • Placement type: Volunteer, Research Project Students or Student Placements (e.g. PTY). There are discounts for BCT members and students.
  • Requirements: age 18+, and in good health
  • Location: Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve, Lilongwe City or Lifuwu Camp (Lake Malawi)
  • Activities: Field Research, marketing, education, community engagement: including bat mist netting and harp trapping, vegetation surveys, habitat assessments, insect trapping, data collation; Community Surveys and questionnaires
  • Student project opportunities? Yes especially MSc and PhD
  • Arrival airport: Lilongwe International
  • Dates: We have specified arrival and departure dates, and we work throughout the year. We discourage start dates in the week of Christmas/New Year.


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:



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