The Colobus Trust has a new resident, an approximately 6 week old white colobus infant. She is doing incredibly well and has now survived longer than any other colobus infant the Trust has rescued in the last 14 years.
Baby Betsy, originally a member of the colobus troop at The Sands at Nomads was taken in by the Colobus Trust on 31st January. Following a rather distressed call from Danny at Diving the Crab on a very hot Monday afternoon, The Colobus Trust went to assess the situation. We found, a small 2 week old colobus infant in Danny’s arms, who reported this was the second time that day she had been found on the floor after being dropped by her troop. Studying the troop of colobus monkeys we could not locate a lactating female and therefore was unsure if the mother was present, however, since colobus mums do sometimes leave their baby with other troop members while they go and stock up on their food intake, we decided to try and reconnect the baby with the troop. Raising the infant on to a flat roof, away from the commotion of the tourists, a sub adult male swiftly climbed from the tree and scoped her up. After observing the troop for a further 15 minutes we were happy with the result, despite a lack of an obvious mother, and left the troop in peace. During the course of the afternoon the infant was dropped further two times, each time she was again scoped up by the same sub-adult male. At 6pm that evening, we received another phone call saying she had been dropped again, with night time quickly approaching we couldn’t risk the infant spending the night on the ground and we took her in to our care. The following day, a team of volunteers, spent the afternoon following the troop and still no lactating female could be seen. It is our assumption that the infant’s mother had died and the sub-adult male trying to look after her was most likely her older brother, however, he lacked the skills and the milk to care for her properly.
The following week was a frantic period trying to learn everything we could about hand raising Angolan Colobus monkeys. After consulting our records on past attempts on hand rearing, we contacted all the zoo’s and institutes worldwide who care take for captive colobus monkeys, including the Species Survival Programme coordinator (SSP) for captive colobus, who keeps all the historical records of all colobus who have ever been kept in captivity, for advise and any new husbandry methods. It very quickly became apparent that the Angolan colobus monkey had never been successfully hand reared from a milk dependant age into adulthood. In fact 38 days is the longest one has survived away from Mum according to the records, the Colobus Trust had previously managed 21 days. A small number (4) of Guerza colobus monkeys have been hand reared over the years, but the Angolan species present here in Diani is renowned for being incredibly fragile and sensitive – we were told to prepare for the worse. The problem with their survival rate is linked to our inability to re-create good G.I. flora, leading to their digestive system becoming compromised on a variety of levels. Never the less we gathered together the feeding schedule for the 21 and 38 day Angolan colobus and the 4 successful Guerza colobus and taking into account what we had learnt over the years of trial and error here in Diani, devised a brand new feeding regime.
Despite a very close call as the result of a strange case of dehydration that baffled 2 vets and a Doctor, Betsy has now reach day 25, (4 days longer than the Colobus Trust has managed before) and continues to do well, feeding every 2-3 hours around the clock, she is growing and gradually changing from white to grey. Her permanent place of residence is strapped inside a kikoy wrapped around the chest of her primary care giver in bid to try to recreate the warmth, love and attachment she would normally receive from her Mother. We are hopeful of her continued survival, but are also realistic, knowing that something as simple as a bacterial infection from this alien environment she is currently living in could take her in as little as 12 hours.
Thank you to Dr. Nick and Dr. Oscar for your vetinenary support and to Dr Raj for your willingness to help, despite your surprise. For frequent updates on Betsy progress, become a ‘friend’ of the Colobus Trust on facebook.
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