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Urbanisation a key biodiversity threat

Urbanisation is a key driver of biodiversity loss globally. Globally, most urbanisation occurs in developing countries, which are predicted to contain 80% of the worlds urban population by 2030 (UNFPA 2007).


The lack of understanding of urban biodiversity limits our ability to develop sustainable biodiversity urban planning schemes.


Malawi is one of the most densely populated countries in Africa. Lilongwe city, has a good network of green spaces, wetlands and river corridors, supporting a variety of bat species and other large mammalsincluding spotted hyaena (Crocuta crocuta) and serval (Leptilaurus serval).

DSC_4721_White bellied free tail_Mops ni

Through our Urban Bat Project (UBP) based in and around Lilongwe City we are:

a) assessing urban biodiversity using bats and river ecosystems as indicators of urban ecological health and


b) researching the behavioural ecology of focal species to inform human-wildlife conflict management and promote human wildlife coexistence.

Our research works alongside our Bat Helpline and outreach programmes to educate and assist with human-wildlife conflicts in the urban environment.

Urban Biodiversity Mapping


We conduct annual surveys across the city to map and assess the state of urban biodiversity in Lilongwe.

Working with Lilongwe City Council we have mapped the habitats in Lilongwe to facilitate annual assessments of habitat change. We have produced a biodiversity hotspot map and enforcement strategy for the City Council, to mainstream biodiversity in to the sustainable urban planning process and contribute to the Lilongwe Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan.  

Rapid Biodiversity Assessments


In addition to our ongoing surveys of bats, inverts and carnivores  we conduct rapid biodiversity assessments each year in partnership with Operation Wallacea. For two months each year with teams of researchers we conduct intensive surveys of birds, small mammals, bats, birds and insects across the city to map city wide diversity and abundance. Watch the project video below.


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