Discovering a new bat species and incredible camera trap images: A Unique insight into Malawian wildlife conservation for Biosphere explorers

From discovering new species and rare elephant herd sightings, to tracking lions and stunning camera trap footage — the latest Biosphere Expedition at Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve is well underway, and we’re proud to be hosting the latest groups of conservation enthusiasts once more!

Across four jam-packed weeks, participants are gaining a truly unique insight into the best wildlife Malawi has to offer as well as exposure to the most cutting-edge research techniques being deployed at our dedicated research base right in the heart of the national park.

Our research manager, Mandy Harwood, alongside representatives of Carnivore Research Africa (CRA), have been guiding the Biosphere participants on their conservation-centred experience, giving the groups a glimpse into the world of a wildlife researcher and the lives of the majestic creatures that live in Vwaza.

But this is no holiday… Our visitors from Biosphere were expecting to get stuck in with on-the-group biodiversity research and start making a real difference for conservation from day one. And their experiences so far definitely have not disappointed!

Some highlights so far…

  • On only the second day, the participants were lucky enough to spot Blackbeard, the gigantic bull elephant, the largest of over 60 individuals that were sighted that day. A gathering of this many elephants from multiple herds, with senior members and calves as young as four weeks, is a rare and beautiful sight, and the group were incredibly fortunate to be treated to such an experience so early in their visit.
  • The first large mammal drive delivered some valuable wildlife data including the recording of a herd of 130+ buffalos as well as elephants, impalas, warthogs, bushbucks, and kudus. The team also discovered lion tracks and a recent lion kill just 500m from the research camp!
  • The hippo transect walks recorded over 140 individuals and the teams successfully tracked down the collared vervet monkeys to detail crucial behaviour observations which will inform ongoing primate research.
  • The bat surveys conducted by the team yielded an incredible result when a brand-new species for Malawi was officially recorded. Kerivoula lanosa, commonly known as the woolly bat, was caught and identified in the harp nets set up by the group just outside camp. The only other record of this species in Malawi was made over 30 years ago, and it has never been recorded in Vwaza. “The results are insane!” said Karen from CRA.
  • • The 24 camera traps installed by the team returned over 1,500 images of 23 different species, including leopards, servals, caracals, porcupines, hyenas, honey badgers, and elephants. 

As you can see, our visitors from Biosphere Expeditions are being treated to the very best of Malawian wildlife, and we appreciate the enormous contribution to biodiversity research and protection they are making!

Read the Biosphere Expedition blog with more details on the groups’ activities and stunning photos here:

What is Biosphere Expeditions?

Biosphere Expeditions empowers ordinary people to make a positive difference to wildlife conservation and research through our international expeditions, working hands-on as environmental volunteers on wildlife conservation holidays all across the globe.

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