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Support our Good Wood Carvers!

My last blog at the Colobus Trust!

This is Heidi, eco volunteer and I have spent the most amazing last three weeks at the Colobus Trust.  I have helped to plant indigenous tree seedlings, cared for the tree nursery, helped with a re-release of a Sykes monkey, observed and photographed the Colobus, Sykes, Vervets and Yellow Baboons, help teach some of the local kids in the Education program and most importantly revamped the lovely Gift Shop!

We now have some ethically sourced and fair trade items for sale in our gift shop as well as having developed some positive relationships with local carvers and artists to promote conservation in particular working with “good woods.”  I am very sad to be leaving Diani Beach but hope to come back next year for a much longer stint to work at the Colobus Trust (fingers crossed!)  The Colobus Trust is a very worthy conservation project that is actively doing so many things in the community of Diani and beyond.  I hope I made an impact with the carvers as I showed some of them around and spoke to them in depth about conservation, deforestation and using sustainable materials for future generations.  Even if I only made some headway with a handful of local artists, I am very happy to have had the experience in meeting and working with some locals in the community (and practice some of my Swahili!).




Pics from top: Daniel, Daniel and me, Stephen

Late this afternoon I had to pick up the remaining Colobus key rings I ordered from one of our new “good wood” carvers, Peter James.  I met Peter about two weeks ago when I went around viewing all the different sorts of carvings and curios available in Diani.  Peter carves many animals out of all kinds of woods and he is very good at carving key rings with people’s names in them.  I noticed he used ebony (a hard indigenous wood) so I asked him if he ever considered making key rings in mango or neem instead.  He said he would try making some in mango wood as the material was readily available but no one had ever asked him for key rings from mango tree.  Now the second time I checked on Peter about a week ago I happened to meet his wife and two new little babies (twins named Esther and Mangi).  I could see his babies didn’t look well and they were crying their little heads off.  Peter was in a hurry and told me he couldn’t finish the order of key rings as he had to take his babies to hospital but could I please give him a large deposit for the key rings even though the work wasn’t finished.  I normally didn’t give the carvers any hefty deposits before the work was finished but on this occasion my heart sank as I looked at how ill his babies were and I gave him half of the money towards the 10 key rings.  I knew he would spend it all at the hospital or on medication for his babies.

The next day I saw Peter and asked about his babies and checked on the outstanding order for the key rings.  He said he was still working on them as his babies were in hospital and he hadn’t had time to work on them but could I give him another order for key rings and another deposit!  I was a bit reluctant but he pestered me to give him a chance to make a new style key ring with the sample Colobus Trust logo I had given him.  He promised he would make some good key rings and deliver key rings on time next week.  I kept checking up every day this week and some days Peter wasn’t there at his shop but his fellow shop keepers told me he was at the hospital with his sick babies.


It really is Pole Pole sometimes in Kenya (slowly slowly!) but today I picked up the last of the key rings for the shop.  I was very happy to have seen one of the twins, in Peter’s shop lying on the ground all bundled up in her blankets.  She still didn’t look that well but she was out of hospital.  I ended up babysitting Esther while Peter was still working manning his shop and finishing the remaining 9 key rings.  I really didn’t mind waiting and keeping Esther entertained by picking up Maasai carvings and talking to her in my best Swahili (I don’t think she was that impressed with my Swahili though).  I must have entertained her for about 30-40 minutes or until I ran out of all the different types of animal carvings and Maasai people that I had talking to her.

Unfortunately Peter’s little boy, Mangi is still in hospital but now able to get some much needed medication because the Colobus Trust ordered quite a few key rings for the new Gift Shop this past week. The Colobus “Good Wood” key rings which are made out of mango tree are all hand carved and painted by Peter.   They are very simple but I am hoping that some volunteers and other visitors to the Colobus Trust will pick up one or two as a souvenir and not only support the Colobus Trust but help support Peter and his family.  All the new items we have sourced are fair trade and ethically sourced (no middle men making a commission).  I really wanted to make a difference in some small way and I believe by helping the local people in Diani we will continue to build relationships towards positive thinking for our future.  It is up to Peter’s children Esther and Mangi to carry the hope of conservation so I am happy that we were able to support them this week.


Peter and his little girl Esther

You can help support Peter and his family by donating online now to the Colobus Trust and purchasing “Good Wood” items from our Gift Shop.  We will soon have an online shop where we hope that many people will support Diani local “good wood” carvers and artists through fair trade.


Thanks to everyone at the Colobus Trust for making my three weeks so memorable and special.

I will miss you all and look forward to coming back next year as a long term volunteer!


Heidi, Eco-Volunteer

Colobus Trust New Website Launched

At last our new website is out and about …. after a long period of neglect, it has made its comeback with a new chic look and beautiful photos taken by our volunteers and staff members. You can easily access it by pressing this link  (best observed with an explorer browser) the main address remains unchanged. We would also like to take this opportunity to thank all of our supporters and donors for their generous contributions, every little bit helps!

The Colobus Team


Working with Camps International

So far in 2009 The Colobus Trust has hosted two groups of Camps International students. This is just one example of how we work together with, and host, other organisations to facilitate and promote the vast majority of our work.

21 students aged 17-20 joined us at our base for two blocks of five days. Both programs started with an in-house education day during which students. This consisted of a morning of informative lectures focusing on introducing the students to Colobus Monkeys, Colobus Monkey conservation, and a general lecture on safety in the field. They were also told what to expect in the forest. This was followed by an afternoon walking in the forest where they learnt about the history of the local Digo people and their Kaya Forests as well as seeing firsthand the threats posed to the future of Diani Forest.

Students prepare piping at the Colobus Trust

The remaining part of the week was spent working on practical conservation activities. Many of which would not have been possible for us without the increased number of workers we had. Days were spent desnaring, undertaking beach cleanups, caring for and feeding our ex-pet Vervet monkeys, preparing insulation material (above) and much more. Many of our volunteers joined in to help with this.

The extra hands provided by the students allowed us to prepare the insulation material in record time and both programs facilitated the insulation of a hotspot and we covered over a kilometer of cable! Below is a picture of the insulation material being put into place on the Zawama hotspot.

Insulating the powerlines

It is thanks to organisations like Camps International, who work alongside and support us, as well as providing core funding, that we are able to carry on much of our work. We look forward to working together again in the future!

The Colobus Team

Thank You Lantana!

I am writing on behalf of all at The Colobus Trust to thank all at Lantana – Galu Beach for their generous donation of KSh 100,000 toward The Colobus Trust. This is a very welcome gift for us all and will go a long way toward helping us continue our good work!

Lantana is a recently opened local development comprising of 48 holiday homes made up of eco-friendly houses, bungalows and villas. The cheque was handed over to The Colobus Trust on Friday the 13th of February at The Colobus Trust’s office in Diani, 5km north of this exclusive development. Below is a picture of Colobus Trust Chairman Mr Raymond Matiba receiving the cheque from Mr Hamish Govani, one of Lantana’s Directors. Stood beside them is Mr Onesmus Macharia, the General Manager of the Trust.

Lantana Cheque Handover

Sadly it is still generous donations like this that are keep us afloat but we hope this great start to a partnership between both our companies will trigger other organisations in Diani to take the same step. This donation will go a considerable towards funding our core projects and covering running cost for this month. We are still struggling to cover these monthly costs in the wake of the effects that post election violence and the credit crunch have had on us.

For more on the goings on at The Colobus Trust please await our next blog on our newest guest!

Thank you once again Lantana!


A Christmas Appeal – One Year Later….


Unsung Heroes of The Colobus Trust – Dr Alan

There are many people without whom our work would have never been possible, I hope one day to mention them all. One of these people is our vet Dr Alan. Dr Alan only recently moved to Diani, but has quickly built up a strong bond with all of us at the trust. Although we use several vets, dependant on the situation, Dr Alan has become our main source of call. Not only because he is an excellent wildlife vet, with a wealth of experience, but also because he has been kind enough to never charge us for his services. This gesture means a lot to us as currently we are being hit hard by a lack of volunteer bookings (which supply a large amount of our funding and workforce). We hope that by telling you of the wonderful work he does we can go somewhere towards paying him back. Dr Alan Together with Dr Alan we have treated many cases. Including a successful one on Tuesday this week where we rescued an old female Sykes Monkey who had been hit by a speeding car. On arrival it seemed like there was little hope, she was bleeding profusely out of her ears, mouth and nose, but she was breathing steadily, so we acted fast. After collecting her we rushed to pick up Dr Alan. Having had to abandon his shopping trip Dr Alan proceeded to analyse the monkey’s condition on the way back to our vet clinic. She had taken a nasty hit to the face, had lost a few teeth and was bruised all over. It was very clear however, that this monkey was a tough one! She had lost a hand and the cartilaginous part of one ear to an earlier incident that we assume to be an electrocution. However, after Dr Alan’s treatment and continued care from our staff she made a quick recovery and was eating and drinking by the end of the day. Now, three days later, she is well on the road to recovery (photo below). We hope that after a few more days’ observation she will be ready for release. We will keep you updated on her progress. The Sykes Monkey In It’s Cage So, we would like to take this opportunity to extend a massive thank you to Dr Alan. His kind nature, expertise and generosity are invaluable to us and we look forward to learning much from each other in the future.  Thank you Dr Alan, from all at The Colobus Trust!

Noisy Monkeys In The Morning

There was an interesting event yesterday morning in our garden, which showed how well developed communication among monkeys really is. It was fascinating for many of us who witnessed it as we waited for our morning meeting to start.

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Claire’s Blog

Hi! I’m Claire, and I’m a 9-year-old volunteer at the Colobus Trust. I am from Seattle, Washington, in the U.S.A. It is an amazing and beautiful place here, with monkeys everywhere! A troop of nine Colobus monkeys roam around these grounds. Tumaini, born in April (the baby Colobus monkey) is acting so grown up (or at least trying to) but is still so tiny and cute!

Claire Teaching

Yesterday, 15 kids from Magutu Primary School came to learn about the Colobus Trust and what they do. I think they learned a lot and I learned a lot too! Afterwards we played on the beach and that was fun too (I think it was the most fun

My favorite place here is the beach with white sand, palm trees, crabs crawling all around, and the beautiful warm water. Me
and my dad love to jump in the big waves.

If you ever come to Diani, COME HERE AND HELP SAVE THE COLOBUS MONKEYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Check out our family photos on the Flickr Colobus Trust photo group:

Egbert’s First Week At The Colobus Trust

Today I’m in Diani Beach for a week now and the first week of working at the Trust has passed very quickly. I will give a short impression of the Trust and my first week of volunteering, after introducing myself.
My name is Egbert Jager, 24 years old and I am a student from Nijmegen, a place in the east of Holland. After graduating my BSc of communication science I would liked to do something different, going traveling and experience other countries and cultures. Since my first time in Kenya I really liked to come back once to stay for a longer time. It was terrible to see what happened after the elections in December, I couldn’t believe a crisis like that could arise in a country with such a nice people. Because of the crisis I doubted if it was safe to come over. I’m happy that I decided to go and find here a challenge working as a volunteer at the Trust. They really can use some support, since there haven’t been that many volunteers anymore during the crisis.
I came here last week with little knowledge of the work or experience with animal welfare. After an introduction of the activities of the Trust I found out their mission, not being a relief for monkeys only. They do a lot more which I really appreciated!

The first day of my stay I have helped John with animal welfare. In the beginning it was strange standing in the cages and feeding the vervets, while they are jumping around. But now I’m used to it and I really enjoy doing it. The second day I have seen my first Colobus. In the garden of the Trust lives a group of approximately 8 Colobus. These animals are so beautiful!
Other projects I have been working on is desnaring. Crossing the bushes like a bushman was sometimes very hard and warm. But I have a lot of fun with the casuals who started to practice the German language with me. Besides that you know it’s a good activity after finding a snare! Another good activity I joined is tree trimming. Fortunately I haven’t seen an electrocuted monkey till now. Yesterday I have been monitoring the Colobus Monkeys in the surrounding of Diani. I loved walking in the forest enjoying the nature and the Colobus Monkeys we have been looking after.
In the coming two weeks I will also work on the education projects. I’m looking forward to visit the schools and say hello to the children…

Egbert Jager

Helen’s Blog

In 2005 i graduated with BSc honours in Zoology at Glasgow University in Scotland. During my student years I took part in one of the university expeditions to Ecuador and I helped organize another to Bolivia. While there I studied an array of animals from tropical birds in the Andes and the Amazon to leaf cutter ants, bats and, most inspiring of all, primates. In 2007 I started my MSc in Primate Conservation at Oxford Brookes and the course has been able to award me with essential skills needed for a future career in conservation, such as; Primate Diversity and Biogeography (eg threats to primates, taxonomy, systematics, speciation, ecology, behaviour, biodiversity, habitat protection), Human Wildlife Conflict Issues (eg hunting, pest control, eco-tourism, economic pressures on forests, design and management of reserves and parks), Environmental Education (eg philosophy – the relationship of awareness to action, planning and practice)
Primate Conservations Genetics (eg DNA sequencing, studbooks, minimal viable populations), Research Methods in Primate Conservation (eg behavioural sampling, surveys, statistics, generating funding, museum studies) and Captive Management (eg enclosure design, breeding, display, rehabilitation).
I am now volunteering at The Colobus Trust while I complete my research on Galagos. While I am here I hope to use these skills I have gained and share my knowledge with those at the trust to help conserve the four species of primates found in this area. I also hope to gain vital experience from the staff here which I am sure I will. I have already learnt so much from them and been able to use my skills I have learnt through out the year while helping with the rehabilitation and captive management side of things, and hopefully my input here won’t go unnoticed.

Helen Simmons