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Wednesday
Mar162016

Go Batty For Malawi - Bat Conservation In The 'Warm Heart of Africa'

If a map of Africa were a patchwork quilt, Malawi would be the seam that secures Tanzania, Zambia and Mozambique. Green clad covers scatter the landscape and an outstretched, pastel blue patch makes the magnificent Lake Malawi, the third largest lake in Africa.

Malawi is a geographical gathering, a convergence in the continent of Africa, combining the characteristics of a cluster of close by countries. It is this collage of landscapes, merged to make the dramatically diverse landscape of Malawi. Whether you are a first time traveller or an experienced explorer, you will find new adventures in marvelous Malawi.

Malawi has a total of nine national parks and wildlife reserves. The varied landscape proves this possible as it is a source of life for an array of animals including many mammals, birds and fish. During the day, it’s not strenuous to spot the larger mammals, such as elephants and rhinos. However the nocturnal creatures of Malawi can go unnoticed and occasionally omitted from conservation efforts.

flickr | David DaviesDepicted as chilling creatures in literature (think Bram Stoker’s gothic novel Dracula) and framed as fierce in film; in the past bats have been given a bad rap, that’s for sure. Even though bats have a notoriously nocturnal nature, we should not forget these furry fellows, as they create over 30% of Malawi’s mammalian diversity.

Bats can often go under the radar, but in terms of conservation, bats play a huge role in maintaining a balanced biodiversity. Bats’ benefits are boundless; they pollinate plants, control critters and circulate seeds. The 57 species of bats in Malawi face environmental threats, such as deforestation for agriculture, wild fires and the introduction of new species to the environment. Unbeknown to many, bats also contribute towards the economy of Malawi. They are a pollinator of the baobab tree, a source of economic stability for many in the African Savannah.

flickr | Lisa de VreedeFrontier’s Bat Conservation Project in Malawi aims to carry out research to gain a better understanding of the role of bats in maintaining the beautifully balanced biodiversity of rural Malawi. This project also aims to promote awareness of bats in the national parks beyond, to ensure that they are carefully considered in conservation strategies. Working alongside expert research scientists in their field, you will learn skills such as, acoustic monitoring, creating bat guides, roost surveys, assessing habitats, insect sampling and monitoring small mammals and radio tracking. Frontier’s Bat Conservation project in Malawi also works within the communities to educate people about the importance of bats to the eco system as unfortunately our furry friends are still viewed as pests by many.

flickr | Tambako The JaguarBy volunteering with Frontier on the Bat Conservation Project in Malawi, you will play a vital role in the conservation of one of the most misunderstood creatures, gaining great hands on experience to prepare you for a career in conservation. In your spare time, when you are not working in your riverside outdoor office, you will have the chance to explore the beauty Malawi has to offer from discovering delicious Malawian cuisine to traversing Liwonde National Park.

By Nathalie Brand - Online Journalism Intern

Frontier runs conservationdevelopmentteaching and adventure travel projects in over 50 countries worldwide - so join us and explore the world!

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