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ABC Team


Dr Emma Stone

Director & Founder

ABC and the umbrella charity Conservation Research Africa ( were founded by Dr Emma Stone. Emma is a Senior Lecturer in Conservation Science at the University of Bath, where she co-leads the Bat Conservation Research Lab. Emma is the Regional Chair for Central Africa on the Bat1K project which aims to sequence the genomes of all living bat species. Emma is also a member of the IUCN bat specialist committee, contributing to species red list assessments for African bats and a member of the Eurobats Working Committee for Bats and Lighting. Emma directs all our programmes, and has worked in Africa since 1998. Emma's research focus is applied conservation biology with a strong emphasis on evidence based conservation, in particular human-wildlife conflict management, and mitigating the impacts of global environmental change.

Emma was a leader in some of the first experimental studies on the impact of light pollution of wildlife. Emma has published important work on human-wildlife conflict including studies on managing bats in historic buildings – work that has influenced government policy on licensing protocols for endangered species. She has also made important contributions to the limited role of mitigation in conservation and she was invited to write the first review of the effects of lighting on bats. Emma has secured over £2.7 million in funding since 2005 (1618 citations, H-Index 16).

Read more about Emma's research here.



Professor Gareth Jones

Scientific Advisor

Gareth Jones is Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Bristol, U.K. Gareth received his BSc (Hons) from the University of London before completing a PhD on the behavioural ecology of birds at the University of Stirling, moving to Bristol as Royal Society University Research Fellow. Gareth is world renowned for his research on bats and bioacoustics. He has led research on the discovery of a new, abundant species of European bat, the first mammal species to be described from Britain in recent years; and was involved in the discovery of 3 further cryptic species of bat. Other achievements of note include: driving research on how cryptic species contribute to bat biodiversity worldwide; elucidating unusual social organisation (matrilineal structure and intra-lineage polygyny) in bats;


 determining when echolocation is ineffective for bats, and elucidating how moths respond to echolocation calls of bats; pioneering methods for the acoustic identification of bats and the development of acoustic monitoring; research on potential adverse effects of street lighting on bats; using presence-only modelling to predict bat distributions and to predict responses under climate change scenarios; producing some of the first papers using molecular methods to identify insect prey eaten by bats and building capacity for  bat research in China and India, leading to research on genes involved in vocalization and hearing in echolocation. Gareth has supervised over 40 PhD students to completion, many of whom are academics in universities throughout the world, and is author of more than 270 peer-reviewed articles. He is now primarily interested in conservation biology, and works on a wide variety of taxa.

Angelena Efstathiou

Head of Conservation & Research 


Angelena holds a BSc in Animal Conservation and Biodiversity (from University of Greenwich) and a MRes in Endangered Species and Recovery (from Nottingham Trent University). She carried out her BSc thesis on a mixed species troop of primates at ZSL London Zoo and her MRes thesis on white bellied free tailed bats in Lilongwe in 2017, with African Bat Conservation. She was awarded a research grant from Bat Conservation International to conduct her research on roost exclusions in Lilongwe to help inform conflict mitigation. Angelena is an experienced bat worker having been involved in many scientific research projects including radio tracking of several species in the UK. 

Angelena was the Research Manager at African Bat Conservation from 2019 to 2021 and then following her return to the UK, she was the Science Projects Manager at the Bat Conservation Trust where she managed two large scale acoustic monitoring citizen science projects. She has been involved in conservation projects in both the UK and Africa and has sat on committees for several conservation groups including being Chair of Nottinghamshire Bat Group. She holds several UK Protected Species Licences including Levels 1-4 for Bats. 



Luisa Auletta holds a Master’s degree in Natural Sciences from the University of Naples. While studying she took part to some projects as a volunteer, especially about the ringing of birds for Scientific purposes. In the same period, she also attended to a caving course, becoming a caver and starting to increase her knowledges about biospeleology, that concerns the study of animal species directly related to the caves, including bats. One year later she started to give lectures of Biospeleology during Caving level 1 courses, teaching to new cavers knowledges about subterranean fauna and increasing their awareness and respect for these fragile species.

She carried out her Master’s degree thesis on the in-depth study of the cave-dwelling species of Pertosa-Auletta caves in Southern Italy, spending several months doing field work and collecting samples and data.

Luisa Auletta

Senior Research Assistant

Part of the study was also carried on the amphipod species Niphargus salernianus (Karaman, 2015), aiming to unveil the existence of circadian rhythms and published on the Acts of the III Regional Meeting of Speleology "Campania Speleologica".

Her unconditional love for nature and wildlife led her to spend about a year and a half in Africa, particularly in South Africa and Botswana. She studied to become a Professional Field Guide and she spent several months in the bush in unfenced tented camps, earning more knowledges about African wildlife and qualifications such as FGASA Field Guide, FGASA Apprentice Trails Guide and Tracker Level 1.


Esther started working for ABC five years ago when she moved to Lilongwe as a cleaner and cook so is our longest serving member of staff. During her time with ABC her affection for bats developed through working with the project, talking to research assistants and meeting volunteers. With the help of staff members, Esther started to become involved in the bat surveys and ABC work, learning on the job about conservation and science. Esther has learnt how to handle and process bats but is also great at fixing mist nets and harp traps.

Esther Chikapa

Trainee Research Assistant & Women in Stem Ambassador

She regularly goes out on roost visits and has a keen eye for finding bat roosts. Esther also enjoys the outreach work involved with roost work and is vital to the Teams human conflict mitigation efforts. She also enjoys visiting schools and children in the communities where she can share her experience with others and teach children about bats and their importance in ecosystems. She is passionate about empowering girls to involve themselves in the sciences. Esther is currently working with ABC  on fulfilling her dream to go back to school to finish her education.

Pilirani Sankhani

Operations & Research Officer

Pilirani Sankhani joined the team as Operations and Research Officer in 2023. Pili has a strong interest and extensive experience in project coordination, execution, research, and outreach. 

Pili has 16 years of work experience in wildlife conservation organisations in Malawi and has been involved in varying roles ranging from law enforcement, hospitality to research and rehabilitation coordination. Pili has10 years of work experience conducting operations and research with Lilongwe Wildlife Trust Pili brings to CRA a wealth of transferable skills and expertise.

Pili photo.jpg

Pili has undertaken a Diploma in Environmental Management and has formal training in guiding, 4x4 driving and first aid. His energetic and motivated personality makes him very effective at providing logistical support to projects across the board at CRA while his communication skills coupled with his confidence make him an invaluable asset to our education and outreach efforts.



Matt graduated with a BSc in Animal Conservation and Biodiversity in 2014 from the University of Greenwich. Matt has considerable experience in wildlife ecology and research in the UK and Africa, including Research Associate studying the behavioural ecology of Edible dormice to inform conflict mitigation and field coordinator at a Bush Camp in South Africa. Matt is very passionate about field research, has a great scientific brain and brings a lot of enthusiasm and experience to the ABC team.

Matt Town

Research Associate / MRes Student

Matt has been our longest serving ABC staff member having joined us in 2015 and has developed a high level of expertise in African bats. Matt is currently pursuing his MRes research on human bat conflict in Malawi with ABC and Cardiff University. He has been awarded a research grant from Bat Conservation International and his project is also supported by ABC through volunteer donations.

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