Promoting conservation of fireflies in Kuala Lumpur’s urban park through experiential learning

Fathan Anandadzikra Muharraran, Hong Lian Tan, Wei Jack Tan, Cheng Kai Jun Sampson, Wei Chi Alex Hii, David Jeevathithan Ambalavanar, Muhammad Azamuddeen Bin Mohammad Nasir, Boon Hua Tan, Wan F. A. Jusoh

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterOtherpeer-review


Kuala Lumpur is a megacity beaming in streetlights, but few are aware of nature's light show—the fireflies. Bukit Kiara, an urban park in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, is home to eight species of fireflies. Among them is an unidentified species of the enigmatic genus Lamprigera, of which the females are large and wingless but the winged males have a crepuscular courtship period. The larvae are noteworthy for their green glow. However, with highway and housing developments bordering Bukit Kiara, fireflies in the area are potentially at risk from the increasing impact of human activities.

During March–May 2023, six students of Monash University Malaysia's School of Science, in collaboration with Friends of Bukit Kiara—a non-profit organization working on long-term conservation of the park—conducted undergraduate research projects on the fireflies of Bukit Kiara. The projects received support from the Department of National Landscape, the park administrator of the area. The goal of the projects was to understand how firefly distribution and abundance can change in response to biotic and abiotic factors, such as the effects of artificial light at night, microhabitat types and plant species composition. We also designed a study to verify the accuracy of the firefly larval measurement data that volunteers have collected through the Friends of Bukit Kiara's citizen science flagship programme, Magical Mysteries at Bukit Kiara.

After the 3 months of experiential learning, students who had never worked in limited light conditions or handled nocturnal insects could identify firefly species from their flashing patterns. After all projects concluded in late May, we co-organized a guided firefly walk for the public to celebrate World Firefly Day on 1 July 2023. About 60 participants aged 5 years and above took part, guided by 20 Citizen Science Ambassadors, which included Monash University Malaysia students who received training to conduct the firefly survey. Following the walk, we hosted a public webinar on 5 July featuring three talks, including one student project on the impact of light pollution on fireflies. We plan to continue this experiential learning with future students and volunteers and to collaborate with other organizations to improve firefly conservation in Malaysia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-9
Number of pages1
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024


  • conservation
  • experiential learning
  • fireflies

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