Category Archives: climate change

HERE TO STAY

  The entire compound is full of tents and very busy people. Their tents are blue, green, and red, but their overland truck is yellow and always clean. They’re called Great Primate Handshake (GPH) and they’re here to help with our projects and share some knowledge – about the internet, digital media, film-making and teaching techniques. Monday morning one of the Colobus Trust directors, Luciana, was here as usual to greet her Colobus Trust ‘family’, but this morning she had more news than the daily greetings. There was a new member in our troop for adopters. On Sunday, a white infant Colobus was born! We named the new baby GPH in honour of the visiting volunteer group. I would like to inform those interested in adopting a cute new infant, to take this opportunity. Thanks to GPH group for choosing the Colobus Trust and we would like to welcome the young GPH into the family.  It’s my hope that other groups will be interested in the Colobus Trust, particularly our camping site and am looking forward for new adopters for the new member. Remember you can adopt through our website as well. So let’s say ‘long life’ to little GPH!

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This week our education day was a little different with the involvement of GPH. Another Tuesday and most of the people around are busy preparing for the school workshop. But today we have more participants than usual. There are cameras at every corner of the Colobus Trust premises. The kids moved in through the cameras and immediately loved it. One of the Great Primate Handshake members showed an entertaining cartoon they had made on problems affecting Colobus and other monkeys in the area. The kids then divided in two groups, one were ‘animals’ and one were ‘humans’ and had a hot debate about how they use trees. Then it was off to the beach, where we managed to collect more than ten kilograms of sandals in less than half an hour – all this was waiting to kill our marine life at some point. This was on our waste management topic. Thanks to Magutu Primary for the dedicated beach clean up. The sandals will be used be local artists to make things – like the whale shark (shujaa) made from flip-flops which stands in Haller Park in Mombasa  Most of the kids loved the beach football, and they were all covered in sand by the end of it.  My request to you is, please wherever you are, avoid littering the beach and if possible pick up any rubbish while you are there, walking or jogging. Once again thanks for supporting our education programme through our blog.

Hamisi – Education, Marketing and Communication.

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www.colobustrust.org

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!).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Kwaherini

Heidi, Eco-Volunteer

www.colobustrust.org

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

What I did on World Conservation Day

Hi it’s Heidi here one of the eco-volunteers at Colobus Trust (although there are only two of us at the moment!)  I have been quite busy this week and wanted to share with you what I have been doing this week.  I offered to help revamp the Gift shop in the Colobus Trust so that they will have more opportunity to sell items supporting themselves.

I am a big believer in sustainability and community work so I ventured out into Diani earlier in the week with one of the staff to meet some of the local artists and carvers.

Selling carvings in Kenya is one of the main staples of income for many people here.  Unfortunately many artisans use endangered or illegal woods as they are perceived as more valuable to tourists.  One of the great things I learned on day one at the Colobus Trust is they promote and work with local people to use only “good woods.”  What is a “good wood” you ask?  Good wood is one of the following:  Neem, Coconut, Jacaranda, Mango or Grevillea.

Good Wood trees are easy to grow, durable and they don’t take so long to grow such as ebony, mahogany or rosewood.  If you have visited Africa before then you know how plentiful these carvings are everywhere you go.  They are so beautiful but the carvings from ebony and mahogany are heavier and of course from endangered forests in Kenya.  It only takes about a few years to grow a good wood tree but it can takes many more years to grow ebony or mahogany.  The Colobus Trust does a great job of teaching local people about good woods and encouraging them to carve only using good woods.  Sadly not everyone abides but they have managed to find one or two willing to carve in only good woods.

I made it my mission this week to find some more carvers for a variation of new and unique products offered by the Colobus Trust as well as see for myself the kinds of product out there on offer.  So what’s on offer?  There are lots of monkeys with silly faces and of course the stereotypical three monkey carvings …“monkey hear no evil, monkey see no evil, and monkey speak no evil.”  I was determined to find some new artists to help promote the Colobus Trust in a positive way using good woods and also creating some products that pertain to the Colobus Trust mission of conservation.  I simply wanted some Colobus monkeys!

I am happy to report that I succeeded in finding a few wonderful local artists right in Diani.  The first artists I will be promoting for new Colobus Trust products are named Stephen and Moses.  Stephen and Moses are brothers and they both carve and only carve using Jacaranda (a good wood).  I met many carvers this week throughout Diani but not all carved only using good woods as well as not being as high quality as their brothers’ product.  Moses and Stephen stood out to me for a couple of reasons after I spoke with them.  One, they insisted on using only Jacaranda as it was the best wood for carving and two, they have the most beautiful bird carvings in all of Diani!  I could see that through their work they take pride by using the wood’s natural curves and colorings to highlight a particular bird attribute.  I knew that I had found some wonderful local artists to try and form a partnership.

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I asked them to mock up some sample Colobus monkey.    They knew exactly what a Colobus monkey looked like and were very eager to give it a go although they have never carved a monkey before.  I went back today to check on the samples but they were still working away on each of their carvings.  I have been promised the finished samples next week.  I asked them if they had any of their own ideas for Colobus or monkey items to sell in our gift shop and Moses said he also works in metal and can make anything out of old coins as well as other materials.  He beamed when I asked him for his ideas next week and said he will work all weekend on coming up with some suggestions.  I am so excited as this could really make a big difference to the product offering at the Colobus Trust but more importantly making a difference in local people’s lives.  I had also met with another artist, a painter, whom I asked to paint a sample oil painting picture of a Colobus and her baby.  I didn’t have a photo of a Colobus on me at the time but he said he knew the Colobus well and would do it from memory.  The painter was my last stop and I was so happily surprised to see his beautiful painting of the mother Colobus with her baby finished!  I purchased it out of my own money so we can sell it in the shop.

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My pictures are from of some of our new artists that will be featured in our gift shop.  I am going to post their pictures in the shop so every item we sell has a great story behind it.  We will hopefully offer the “good wood” Colobus monkey carvings and other Diani fair-trade items for sale on the website as well so keep watching this space!  Remember World Conservation and always buy “good woods” (ask if you don’t know), let’s keep the trees going and plant a new one to celebrate.

Thanks for all your support for the Colobus.  Even the smallest purchase or donation can make a big difference.

Heidi, Eco-Volunteer

Colobus Trust

www.colobustrust.org

Seeing a monkey re-release

I arrived last week so apologies for the delay in writing my first blog.  I have been settling into this beautiful place quite nicely.  The Colobus Trust is located in Diani which is one of the most beautiful places in Kenya.  I was so happy to arrive here last week and see for myself all the work the Colobus Trust does to support conservation.

Arriving last week my first day at the Colobus Trust was quite busy.  I helped to plant some new indigenous tree seedlings in the nursery that will go to local hotels in Diani to support native trees for monkeys.  I also helped to clean the monkey cages (the only monkeys that are in cages here are ones that are currently in rehabilitation from being pets).  It is very sad to see the monkeys in the cages when you can easily see the rest of the wild troops jumping and playing in the trees all around the Colobus Trust grounds.  The staff explained to me that some of these monkeys have been pets for years and are currently being weaned off people food as well as learning how to forage for themselves.  They place large branches, flowers, seeds and other natural foods that are found freely here in Diani so the monkeys can get an idea as what to eat for themselves.

These monkeys look so sad but I know the Colobus Trust will do a good job to rehabilitate them and re-release them in their natural environment.

Re-release is such an important part of what the Colobus Trust do to support conservation.  They take in monkeys that were pets, sick or injured and help them rehabilitate so they can get back to their natural environment.  I happened to arrive on a day when one of the monkeys that was rescued by Colobus Trust was re-released.  He was a very young Sykes monkey and he fell from a tree and was seriously knocked unconscious.   A Diani resident called Colobus Trust and the Colobus Trust team rescued him from the road and took him in for assessment.  He stayed at Colobus Trust for a few days and was deemed to be ok after a thorough check up and fit for re-release.

Here are some of the pics I took on my first day at Colobus Trust.  I was so happy to see a success story on my first day and so glad I am here to help work alongside the Colobus Trust staff.  These guys are so caring and concerned about their environment and of course the monkeys.

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If it wasn’t for volunteers like me and donors like you the Colobus Trust wouldn’t be here.  They make such a huge difference in their community in supporting the ecosystem and conservation.  Please support them even if you can only donate $5 or $20.   They are such a worthy conservation project that needs your support now more than ever as tourist and volunteer numbers are so low at the moment.  Thank you.

Heidi

Eco-Volunteer, Colobus Trust

www.colobustrust.org

Kaya forest Activities

I am a new volunteer at the Colobus Trust and my name is Arieh and I am Israeli. I came 5 days ago just few days before the other Israeli couple left. When I got the information about the trust I learned that one of the trust activities is “removing snares from the forest; practical conservation work with local communities in the Kaya a sacred forests” I didn’t understand what it’s all about.

Today I had a great opportunity to join to such activity. We went this morning to one of the villages near Diani. On the edge of thick forest there were around 40 men and women waiting for us (few women came with their little babies tied to their backs).

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The first assignment was to plant trees in an open field were the forest had once been before it was burned. All the people took part in the activity. Some were digging the holes other were planting the small trees and some were watering. The atmosphere was like a big community party.

After this assignment was done we went to the second one, searching for snares at the Kaya sacred forest. I joined to two man and we pierced through the thick forest trying to follow the animal’s path. Along the way I learned a lot from these two guys about how much this Kaya forest is important in their culture and every day life. We got to a large Baobab tree and they showed me how they come to this trees scatter some food around its trunk for the ancestors spirits that come at nights and telling their troubles or their wishes. The spirits are communicating through the wise old man at the village.

We didn’t find any snares nor did the rest of the people. It’s a good sign that this illegal activity is cut down.

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For me it was an excellent opportunity to take part in this kind of community activity that was organized by the trust

Earth Hour: March 28th, 2009 at 8:30pm

From Earth Hour

YOUR LIGHT SWITCH IS YOUR VOTE

“This year, Earth Hour has been transformed into the world’s first global election, between Earth and global warming.

For the first time in history, people of all ages, nationalities, race and background have the opportunity to use their light switch as their vote – Switching off your lights is a vote for Earth, or leaving them on is a vote for global warming. WWF are urging the world to VOTE EARTH and reach the target of 1 billion votes, which will be presented to world leaders at the Global Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen 2009.

This meeting will determine official government policies to take action against global warming, which will replace the Kyoto Protocol. It is the chance for the people of the world to make their voice heard.

Earth Hour began in Sydney in 2007, when 2.2 million homes and businesses switched off their lights for one hour. In 2008 the message had grown into a global sustainability movement, with 50 million people switching off their lights. Global landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Rome’s Colosseum, the Sydney Opera House and the Coca Cola billboard in Times Square all stood in darkness.”

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“In 2009, Earth Hour is being taken to the next level, with the goal of 1 billion people switching off their lights as part of a global vote. Unlike any election in history, it is not about what country you’re from, but instead, what planet you’re from. VOTE EARTH is a global call to action for every individual, every business, and every community. A call to stand up and take control over the future of our planet. Over 74 countries and territories have pledged their support to VOTE EARTH during Earth Hour 2009, and this number is growing everyday.

We all have a vote, and every single vote counts. Together we can take control of the future of our planet, for future generations.

VOTE EARTH by simply switching off your lights for one hour, and join the world for Earth Hour.

Saturday, March 28, 8:30-9:30pm.

Click HERE for more information