Leventis African Biodiversity Fellow 2024

Juliana Adeola Labiran


Back in my home country Nigeria, witnessing a sea turtle held in captivity along the shores of a Lagos beach, about to be killed for bushmeat, ignited my passion for wildlife conservation. This experience fueled my desire to be a voice for wildlife, especially for vulnerable species and their habitats. My commitment was further solidified when I discovered how beneficial bats are to humans.

Bats are witches, that's the belief I was raised with. My mother used to make sure that a bat did not escape our house alive whenever one happened to come in. She stated they were a warning that horrible things were about to happen and that she would stop the evil by killing the bats, who were the evil's messengers. I'd always wondered how it was possible, but I never really had a satisfactory response, nor did I know how to debunk the myth until I volunteered, out of curiosity, at my University for a bat monitoring program, which unveiled the beautiful world of bats and the need to conserve them.

Recognizing that there are many false beliefs about bats and that, while they are hunted and regarded as a source of protein in certain houses, they are also the subject of many negative myths. Understanding their ecology and ways of adapting would be necessary for me to effectively advocate for them.

Research Interests


My research interest lies in bat ecology and conservation. What first attracted me to this field was the realization that bats play critical role in our ecosystems which makes them significant. Yet they are often misunderstood by humans. I am particularly fascinated by their foraging behaviour, habitat use, and the impact of human activities on bat populations.

My country Nigeria boasts of a rich diversity of bat species, many of which are yet to be discovered and play vital role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem. Though there is a growing interest and understanding of bat ecology, there is still much to learn and challenges to overcome in other to ensure long-term conservation of bats and their ecosystem.

I aim to contribute meaningfully to the preservation of bat diversity and ecological integrity of their habitats. By disseminating research findings through scholarly publications and engaging with relevant stakeholders, I seek to become a movement for positive change towards sustainable management of bat populations and their ecosystems in Nigeria.

Current Research

My current research involves monitoring of the Endangered Hipposideros curtus in Nigeria. This is considered critical as it was only recently rediscovered at the Organization I work with (SMACON) and little is known concerning its ecology. Through monitoring of this species, we discovered that wildfire is a major threat to the species and have thus derived conservation means to avert wildfire through our wildfire prevention program. This is a long-term project that will potentially unveil currently unknown aspects of the species.

In Oxford I am currently analysing already collected bat acoustic data from an Agricultural (Oil palm) landscape in Liberia.  palm cultivation often leads to habitat loss and fragmentation, which can threaten biodiversity. Researching bat diversity can help assess the impact of these plantations on local wildlife and guide conservation efforts in the country.

I am finding that this is improving my computing skills and increasing my technical competency in managing vast and complicated datasets. I am also gaining insight into identifying bats based on vocalizations, in addition to the bat capture techniques I am used to. This experience is enhancing my skills in research design and project management involving bioacoustic monitoring. Ultimately, these skills and insights are making me a more capable and versatile field researcher and biologist, better equipped to contribute to wildlife conservation and ecological studies. When I return to Nigeria, I will apply these advanced techniques to handle and analyse the acoustic datasets already collected at my organization, improving our understanding and management of local wildlife.

Brief CV


I hold a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal and Environmental Biology from the university of Benin, Benin city Nigeria (2014) where I gained requisite knowledge on zoological techniques and a Masters in Natural Resources Conservation from the university of Lagos (2018). For my thesis, I studied the diversity and abundance of birds in an urban landscape.

I am one of the pioneering volunteers for Small Mammal Conservation Organization SMACON, where I participated in monitoring populations of Eidolon helvum in one of the largest colonies in Nigeria and also carried out awareness programs in schools and to local community members in places we’ve worked. I fully joined the team in 2022 as Project Manager. In my position, I oversea field surveys of bats in Southeastern Nigeria and manage equipment loans among Our West African Student fellows.

I was also a 2021-2023 secretary of the Nigerian Tropical Biology Association.