As many of you will already know, the un-insulated power lines that run through Diani Forest are responsible for numerous wildlife fatalities. In the last 4 years The Colobus Trust has recorded over 60 confirmed cases where arboreal primates have been killed instantly by power lines that pass through the forest. Shockingly 46 of these cases were Angolan Colobus Monkeys, claiming more lives than any other threat, natural or manmade. Even more are wounded, where the grounding of current can cook flesh to the bone and result in the loss of limbs and frequently, infection that leads an agonising death.
Arboreal (tree-dwelling) primates natural instinct is to avoid coming down to the ground (where they are more at risk from predators) and they use any available material, natural or otherwise as pathways through the forest. Therefore if human encroachment on a forested habitat is to be non-detrimental to the environment, all power-lines should ideally be underground. But this is expensive. Suitable short-term solutions have been found by trimming back branches allowing access to power-lines. This has been a core part of our Electrocution Management Program for the last 10 years. Where Colobus Trust teams have worked in collaboration with the Kenya Power & Lighting Co. Ltd. Another “longer”-term option we have always considered is insulation. A project we have long been pushing KPLC for.
Thankfully there has been a breakthrough in our work to combat this horrible situation. This was in the form of an idea brought forward in a meeting initiated between the Colobus Trust and KPLC. Joseph Njoroge, Managing Director and CEO, Mr Huko, head of KPLC’s Diani Branch as well as a high-powered team from Nairobi represented KPLC. Also in attendance were the, the Chairperson of the South Coast Residents Association, Volker Bassen & Nimu Njonjo (local resident conservationists who run the East African Whale Shark Trust) and the Colobus Trust’s management & two of the Trust’s Trustees.
During the meeting Volker suggested a novel idea to combat electrocutions. Using PVC piping, which can slide over the power lines, without need for them to be lowered, then fasted with ties. This would act to insulate the lines and considerably reduce the decline of the species! The initiative steps in this wonderful idea have now begun and we hope KPLC will insulate their pilot project area (one of our identified electrocution hotspots) soon and will update you on progress!
Below is a picture of those in attendance (except one who is behind the camera!)
This has been a landmark achievement for all involved and we hope that working together with KPLC & other organisations we can really tackle this pressing issue.
The Colobus Team