Category Archives: bushmeat

If you go down to the forest today…

Looking for and removing snares is a vital and regular piece of work for staff and volunteers at the Trust.  Hunting is illegal in Kenya after being banned in 1977, but we know that some forms of hunting still carry on. One way of hunting small animals in forests is to lay a snare on the ground. The snares can be loops of wire tied around trees or spring traps which lie covered on the ground and then catch the animal and snap it into the air if it happens to walk over it. These traps are laid by poachers to capture Suni antelope, dik dik, bush pig, and other animals. Monkeys also get trapped in these snares although they are not set to catch them intentionally.

The skull found in the forest

The skull found in the forest

On one regular visit to a forest near the Flamboyant hotel we had a grisly find. In the undergrowth, we found a wire snare that still had a skull attached to it. A Suni had got caught with the snare around its neck and there was evidence of burnt skin and fur attached. We can only guess that the animal was burnt when a section of forest caught fire, but we don’t know if it was still alive at the time.

The Suni was still attched to the wire snare

The Suni was still attched to the wire snare

On another day a group of us were out looking for snares in Kaya Ukunda. Kayas are sacred forests, which are under increasing pressure due to human population pressures and lack of respect for elders of the tribes who look after the Kayas. Within minutes of entering the forest, we had all found some snares. Much to our horror, a few minutes later we also found some of the men who were probably responsible for laying them! A group of at least five or six men came walking past us on the forest trail, carrying arrows and full sacks on their backs. We kept walking but then realised there were more hunters in the forest as we could hear the two groups were communicating with each other through a series of whistles. The second group also started making their way towards us and being heavily outnumbered we headed off in a different direction. While we were unable to take any action at the time the encounter will be reported and we will continue to make desnaring trips to Kaya Ukunda.



Snares trap again…

A few weeks ago, we got a call from Camp Kenya about an injured male Sykes that was limping on its right front hand. When we arrived on the scene and after assessing the situation, John set about darting the monkey in order to treat its injuries. This particular Sykes monkey was very intelligent and managed to dodge the dart several times, but we finally managed to capture him. It was at this point that we discovered the reason for its obvious discomfort was because it had a snare embedded its flesh. We quickly took him back to the Trust clinic in order to take out the snare and wash the wound, and then to treat the lesion on his mouth that had arisen from trying to get the snare off. We successfully removed the snare that had fixed itself deeply into the monkey’s flesh, cleaned the abrasion and gave him some antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medicine to deal with the infection.

The lesion on the Sykes' mouth and snare around its hand

The lesion on the Sykes' mouth and snare around its hand

We kept the monkey in the cage for 3 days for observation and when we saw that the healing process had begun to take place, we took him back to where he was captured and released him back to the wild. The release was successful.

The snare removed and the wound cleaned

The snare removed and the wound cleaned

Snares are a big problem here in Diani, simply because the locals set the snares to trap the small Suni antelope for bushmeat. Unfortunately, monkeys fall victim to the traps as well which either results in their death or leaves them with deformities. We have therefore put measures in place to mitigate the snare menace. Firstly, we try to educate the locals on the dangers and disadvantages of putting up the snares, especially with our education program with local schools. Secondly, we have a desnaring program where staff and volunteers go into the forest in Diani and physically remove the snares and traps that have been set. Desnaring saves the lives of forest creatures and promotes sustainability of fauna in Diani.



How snare they!

Yesterday the Colobus Trust team went for a desnaring exercise in the Jadini forest. The forest belongs to the Alliance Jadini Hotel and is situated near to the trust. The hotel has allowed the Colobus Trust to create a nature trail within the forest in order to protect it and also to educate tourists on the local wildlife. Desnaring is an exercise which is done on a weekly basis by the Colobus Trust to discourage and prevent poachers from trapping and injuring wildlife. The snares are typically set for catching Suni and other small antelope but unfortunately the local primates in Diani are typical victims of these traps too. They are relatively simple devices which cause a noose to loop around any animal unfortunate to cross their path. These devices are brutally ineffective in that they trap and seriously injure animals and then leave them to suffer in great pain until they die or the poachers return. Sometimes the animal can break away with the snare still attached to them, in which cases the snare continues to embed itself in the animal causing pain, potential limb loss and even death. (see previous blog)


Above: Peter spots a snare

The task in hand was relatively simple. We needed to clear as many of the snares as possible.

Our day began with a brief background and training on the exercise for the day, followed by a sweep of the route that the eco-tour will take. The area we were exploring was very dense which we thought would make it very difficult to find the snares. Unfortunately, it was all too easy to find them due to the sheer numbers that were around, although Peter’s sharp eyes did help! However, it was more likely to be a sign of the quantity of poaching which continues to take place. In all, we found 17 snares within a relatively small area (clearly a hot spot for poaching), which is worrying when considering how many snares might be laid in Diani. Included in our snare haul were five spring traps. These are snares that are attached to a bent stick which springs back when the snare is triggered pulling its unfortunate victim into the air and suspending them there. Nearby we also found a skull from a Colobus monkey that we fear may well have been a victim to a snare due to its size and dentition.


Above: Rob removes a snare

We hope the nature trail will be up and running within the next few days and that we will be able to keep the trail and all of Diani as snare free as possible.

Thanks for your continued interest in the Colobus Trust!

Rob, Dougie and Mavinya

Four Fingers Education

My name is Hamisi, Education and Marketing  officer at the Colobus Trust. It has been very wonderful interacting with the kids for the past twelve years. Most of our environmental education workshops are on Tuesdays.


Last Tuesday we had students from Madago Primary School. The kids seemed to be shy at first, but as the day progressed things started to heat up. Most of them were new to the site and found some facts to be strange. A colobus monkey has only 4 fingers! But one could tell from the look in their faces that they were really enjoying this session. 23 students accompanied by two teachers, had their uniforms turning the Colobus Trust premises into a colorfully area. Although all students come from around and they know most of the monkey issues, they learned a quite a lot from the two volunteers helping during the day (Heidi and Margi). Heidi, whose favorite word in conservation is ‘endemic’, managed to pump pressure on sleepy looking students. The entire day was fun altogether and all participants enjoy. Education was mostly based on Environmental issues, protection of trees, and being kind to all animals. Divided into four groups, named after the monkey species around (Colobus, Sykes, Vervets and Baboons), the competition was stiff. The baboons emerged the winners, maybe because they are always aggressive to the other small monkeys.


But the competition never ended here, because at the beach, girls wanted to challenge the boys on football. And with great support from their team captain, Heidi, they won 1-0. Boys you really let me down as I never believe in next time.


By the time we came back for the question and answer session, every body was thirst and drinking lots. This did not stop Hamisi, one of the smart students for the day from scooping home most of the prizes, many of which had been donated by our volunteers. At around 5.00 pm, Margi who had been very busy all afternoon also had to stop her work and come to say goodbye. Time had come for the students to leave.


We agreed to continue working together with them and very soon we shall send our team to plant trees in their school.

All this was possible from the donation we get through our blog. Whoever loves to support conservation education this is your opportunity. Please support us. Don’t miss next Tuesday as it will be more fun.

Thanks for supporting this vital programme.

Hamisi Pakiah.

Education Officer

Bushmeat: The bigger picture

Bushmeat is one of those complicated issues that is often oversimplified and sensationalised by conservation and animal welfare organisations because of the emotions it stirs up in people and how easy it is to capitalise on our reactive needs to do something about a problem when confronted with the gruesome but simplified reality of a monkey being carved up for lunch.

There is no question of the alarming conservation and welfare issues surrounding the consumption and trade in bushmeat that have to be tackled if we are to ensure the survival of certain species, particularly the great apes in western and central Africa. But there is also no question that everything is interelated. Kenya is facing one of its worst droughts in history and not suprisingly, this is leading to an increase in wild game consumption. We posted recently about this HERE after reading an article in the Standard about the worrying increase of wild game meat consumption within the coastal province. Poverty and hunger and a lack of response from the government authorities means that peope have to do what it takes to survive, feed their children and themselves.

I just came across a very interesting video from the TED 2009 posted by Erik Hersman (thanks, Erik!) on his blog.  This is a talk given by Nathan Wolfe from the Global Viral Forecasting Initiative who focuses on the disease interface between wildlife and humans and how they are using working closely with hunters in Cameroon who are taking blood samples from their catch to be examined for disease. This way, the people themselves who are only a symptom of the viscious cycle of poverty and human greed can at least be part of the knowledge process in making decisions and knowing what is at stake in consumption of bushmeat.

Please take the time to watch the video below. We hope that in the near future, the Colobus Trust will be able to address some of the bigger issues surrounding bushmeat consumption through a holistic approach that addresses every trajectory into this despairing practice of eating wild game.

I would also be very interested to hear other people’s thoughts on the video so do post a comment.

Click on the image below to take you to the video

Nathan Wolfe