Malawi: Roundup 2019

Vwaza Marsh is a little known wildlife reserve in the north of Malawi with virtually no tourism and very little research and conservation work having been done until, in 2017, the Lilongwe Wildlife Trust (LWT) and Conservation Research Africa (CRA) set up a research camp inside the reserve.

Biosphere Expeditions joined forces with LWT and CRA in 2018 and has sent teams of citizen scientists to Vwaza for the past two years. “Much of our research requires a lot of manpower and by having teams of citizen scientists, we can collect a lot of data in a short time”, explains Karen Dylan, an entomologist with CRA.

During the six weeks that the Biosphere Expedition teams were in Vwaza in 2019, 10 new elephants were identified and catalogued. This brought the LWT elephant database to over 200 total elephants, a milestone for the project. This is estimated to comprise about 75% of the Vwaza elephant population. By identifying elephants, population dynamics and abundance, long-term management can be improved.

The teams also set camera traps throughout the park. Twenty-four different species were captured on camera, confirming the high species density in the reserve. Eleven species of elusive carnivores were captured, including leopard.

From the 51 bats caught during the nine surveys, three species provided new records for CRA for both Vwaza and Malawi. At the end of the four-week expedition, Harwood concludes that “having Biosphere Expeditions here has made it possible for us to gather a lot of data in a short amount of time. Not only this, but we have also been able to survey parts of the reserve that we otherwise find it hard to get to. This has resulted in us providing critical information for the management and conservation Vwaza Marsh.”

In summary, the 2019 expedition achieved this:

  • 36 large mammal driving and 3 large mammal walking transects with 95 sightings and 11 species recorded
  • 11 hippo walking transects counting a total of 1,373 hippos
  • 10 new elephants were identified
  • 11 primate surveys were conducted for a total of 38 focal observations
  • 11 orders of insects were identified
  • 51 bats from 11 different species were captured and released, including three species that were new records for the reserve
  • 46 camera traps were deployed during the expedition
  • 24 different species were caught on these cameras, including one big cat species, leopard.

Thank you to all citizen scientists for helping us to achieve this!

Here are some pictures and videos of the expedition:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: