Are you having problems with carnivores or bats?

Conservation Research Africa have started a Free Phone Wildlife Assistance Helpline offering advice and site visits to Malawian residents who are having problems with wildlife around their homes; specifically bats and carnivores.

The aim of this project is to provide answers and help to residents who have immediate bat and carnivore related issues, and promote coexistence between people and nature.

Before calling the Helpline, please read the advice below to see if you can alleviate the problem.

If you're having bat problems, please visit our African Bat Conservation website.


On this page

Wildlife Assistance Helpline

Myths and truths about carnivores

Common problems with carnivores and how to resolve them

"I feel threatened by hyaenas whilst walking home, will they attack me?"

"I feel threatened by hyaenas/jackals near my house at night"

"Hyaenas are taking my livestock"

"There are animals living in my loft/roof/walls causing smell and noise and I want to remove them"

Download the Carnivore Advice document


AirtelWildlife Assistance Helpline

If you can't find the solution you're looking for below, or you want more information or a site visit, please call our Free Wildlife Assistance Helpline number:



Myths and truths about Carnivores

“Carnivores can be tamed as pets”

Wild animals can rarely be tamed as pets, even if they are taken from very young. Carnivores make especially bad pets as a lot of them live solitary once they’ve reached adulthood, and have a strong instinct for holding a territory, showing dominance and hunting.

“Witches can take the form of carnivores to harm people or “Body parts from carnivores can give you special powers or help you achieve your goals”

Traditional folklore teaches that hyaenas have magical powers or were originally people. No animals have magical powers nor can people turn into animals, this is merely superstition stemmed from a lack of understanding of this nocturnal animal. Using carnivore animal body parts does not give any powers, and could put you at risk of contracting diseases. Many carnivores are protected by international law and using their body parts is illegal and could result in a jail sentence.

“Hyaenas do not hunt, they steal food from other animals”

In many parts of Africa it is more common for a pride of lions to steal food from a clan of hyaenas then the other way round. Hyaenas are opportunistic and will chase predators like cheetahs off a kill or eat a found dead animal, but they are also efficient hunters.

“Hyaenas will take children from the house”

Humans are the main predator of hyaenas, and more than often if a hyaena encounters a human it will run away or avoid it. Hyaenas are more interested in wild prey like impala and warthogs, or livestock or feral dogs. But as hyaenas are opportunist, especially if they haven’t found food for a while, and so there is a risk from hyeanas especially at night when alone or sleeping. Children should be accompanied if out after dark and houses should be fully secured when sleeping. Keeping lights on will discourage hyaenas from getting anywhere near a residence, and keeping dogs will also deter them.


Common Problems with bats and how to resolve them


“I feel threatened by hyaenas whilst walking home, will they attack me?”


Walking home at night should always be done with care, and people in Lilongwe are at a higher risk from other people and feral dogs then from hyaenas. Curious hyaenas may show interest in or follow lone walkers in dark quiet locations. Lone walkers under the influence of alcohol are also at a higher risk and walking home alone after drinking should be avoided. If you believe you are being followed at night by a hyaena, take the following actions.

Try to avoid coming across wild animals by keeping to well-lit, busy and noisy spaces and walking with companions after dark.
If you do meet a hyaena and it doesn’t show interest in you, ignore it, carry on walking away slowly. Make a detour around it and DO NOT RUN. Running may trigger the hyaena to chase. Keep your eye out for other hyaenas nearby.

If the hyaena shows interests in you then;
•  Keep yourself calm and try not to show fear
•  Stop, don't run away. As a hunter, the hyaena will instinctively chase, even out of curiosity.
•  Don't lie down - this will increase its curiosity
•  If you are carrying food throw it away and if the hyaena shows interest in it, move away slowly.
•  Hyaenas are good hunters but also scavenge so avoid carrying food at night as a precaution.
•  See if you are standing near rubbish or a dead animal. The hyaena is likely to be more interested in it than you. Slowly move away, but keep facing the hyaena.
•  If the hyaena shows interest in you and moves towards you, suddenly move a few steps towards it, to surprise it and make it think you are a predator. Wave your arms about, make yourself as big as possible. Make a loud noise -shout or scream and look aggressive and frightening. Most likely the hyaena will run away.
•  If not, vary your tactics - be still for a moment then make a sudden threatening movement or noise. If it growls or giggles, this is a sign that it is challenging your attack. In this case, stand your ground - never run away - but don't move any closer.
•  If you are carrying a bag, swing it around your head or make a loud noise e.g. hitting a metal bin or fence. Carrying a torch and whistle is a good precaution - flash the torch in its eyes. If it moves closer, stamp your feet or throw something at it.
•  Don't move away until after the hyaena does. When you do, move slowly, continuing to face the hyena.
•  In the rare scenario that the hyena actually attacks you, stand your ground and fight back - use a stick or kick and hit its head. Never run.



“I feel threatened by hyaenas/jackals near my house at night"


Are the hyaenas regularly visiting your house or is it a one-off?

Hyaenas are curious carnivores that take opportunities when they arise, particular the clans that live in the city as they are feeding less on wild antelope and more on feral dogs and waste food. If you keep livestock like chickens or goats they are probably interested in these. If they are visiting a property regularly, take the following actions.
•  Ensure that you are not leaving waste food (especially meat) out in the open and that any livestock you own are well secured at night.
•  Closing gaps in fencing will prevent hyaenas from entering most properties.
•  Always sleep inside a building at night, which is secured by a good door.
•  Ensure children do not go outdoors alone at night.
•  Keeping guard dogs will help deter carnivores from getting too close to your home.

If you have taken the actions above to discourage them but feel that hyaenas are still regularly visiting your property, call the CRA Wildlife Assistance Helpline - our team can arrange a visit to see why they might be choosing to come to your land and if there are any further measures that can be taken to dissuade them.



"Hyaenas are taking my livestock"


Hyaenas will take advantage of easy prey, and livestock, especially livestock that is not well secured at night, is a very easy meal.

  • “Is the predator definitely a hyaena – has the hyaena been seen or could it be feral dogs?” Feral dogs are usually more a problem in Malawi then hyaenas with livestock, especially smaller livestock like chickens. Hyaenas are often the first to be blamed but the problem could just as easily be dogs, or even serval, jackal or leopard.

How to protect your livestock from carnivores:
1. Intensifying Human Vigilance
•  The presence of humans is normally very effective in discouraging hyaenas from attacking livestock. Having herdsmen present reduces the rate of attack compared to free-ranging herds.

2. Using guard dogs
•  Guard dogs, or Guardian dogs, provide alternatives to herdsmen especially during the night when livestock is in kraals.
•  Guard dogs are trained to alert people not to chase down hyaenas.
•  Guard dogs should be raised from puppyhood together with the livestock so that the dog and livestock can bond.

3. Fencing
•  If properly designed, constructed and maintained, fences can be almost completely effective in keeping out wild animals.

4. Traditional barriers
•  Planting hedges of tree species such as euphorbia is low-cost and effective against carnivores.
•  Although less permanent, fences made from of dead thorny branches can be used in kraals for cattle.

5. Waste management
•  Good waste handling systems – collection, transportation and disposal that restrict wildlife access to garbage are important to avoid attracting wild animals to settlements.
•  Ensure that food waste is buried in a deep (minimum 1.5m) and steep-sided (90 degrees) pit.
•  Throwing ashes on the waste each day minimises smell, reducing the attraction to hyaenas.

6. Good husbandry practices
Livestock raids can be minimised through good husbandry practices:
•  Herding during the day
•  Keeping livestock in a predator-proof enclosure at night (with good fencing, or raised off the ground e.g. chickens)
•  Remove any thick cover from near animal holding areas


7.  Non-lethal control
Use of deterrents that are effective at repelling animals from a site.
•  Acoustic deterrents. Acoustic deterrents shock wildlife away by emitting an unexpected loud noise or a sound known to scare wildlife. Traditional methods may include beating drums, tins and trees; using whips in addition to shouting, yelling and whistling.
•  Visual deterrents: Brightly coloured cloths and plastic may be hung from a fence at the edge of fields to distract predators like hyaenas. Fires lit on the boundaries of fields or burning sticks carried by farmers can deter wildlife if you see them coming.

If you have done all they can to protect your livestock, call the CRA Wildlife Assistance Helpline to get advice and a site visit from trained staff.



"There are animals living in my loft/roof/walls causing smell and noise and I want to remove them"



CRA advocates reducing the impact wild animals have on the house owners rather than removing nests, and in the case of nesting genets, to allow the female to finish raising her kittens before moving the nest and preventing a return. However we also want to encourage people to call the Helpline rather than pest control, so we will also carry out removals, ethically.
All genuine reports of a nest that can be identified as a carnivore or bat will receive a visit from CRA staff.
This could involve:

  • Blocking off inside entrances so the animal can only enter from the outside
  • Placing netting to prevent droppings reaching the floor
  • Blocking or closing gaps on the inside of the building to reduce the level of noise
  • Having CRA staff visitations to clean up any mess periodically, and keep an eye on the nest
  • CRA can arrange for ethical removal of the animals and assist in blocking up the gaps to ensure they do not re-enter


Click here to download this as a PDF document

(If you experience difficulties downloading this, please get in touch and we can email the document to you or provide you with the information over the phone).



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