As promised, here is a photo of one of our mothers with her snow-white baby.
They are still very elusive!
In and amongst the busy days here it is necessary to clear your head. The nature trail seemed the perfect retreat. Half an acre of untamed Coral Rag forest at the back of our plot, we use it as an integral part of our tours and demonstrations to the local schools that come weekly for education at the Trust. It is dense with trees, mostly local but with some exotic, whose roots grow outward on the surface of the ground due to the layers of coral rock underneath the surface. This complex patchwork is rich with other types of flora and the wildlife that forms its habitat.
I ventured in, the first time I had been alone. Once inside, I could hear the sound of monkeys jumping all around me. As I turned a corner, two Colobus appeared only a few feet in front of me. I think they were as surprised as I was and took off! Further into the forest more Colobus appeared. Only this time they did not run, they held their ground proudly. Amongst this majestic throng sat the proud mother of a tiny white infant. Despite a five month gestation period, Colobus usually bear children only once every one or two years. Even then, infancy can be difficult. The snow-white babies are very dependant on their mothers to carry them around. The specific diet of the adults of at least two kilograms of leaves a day requires migration across their habitat. Due to the deforestation in Diani, this can lead troops into meeting and causes conflict. In situations like this babies can be dropped by their mothers in moments of panic, or they can be harmed by the aggressive adults of the other troop.
We were all very excited to hear the news of a new baby in the home troop, and the next day they gave us the honour of spending their time right outside the cottage. As we rushed out to catch a glimpse of the new young, Cara noticed something unusual about the mother carrying her child. In her arms was not one, but two infant Colobus. They lay still and peaceful against her, and we gazed up wondering about this miracle.
It is very rare for a Colobus to produce two offspring, and even more so in June when their usual time for child bearing is September to October. Our belief is that she was caring for two while the other mother had a chance to eat or rest. We are all so excited to have not just one new arrival but two! Needless to say, we will be keeping our eyes on the new mothers and their babies. Seeing these moments is touching, and often reminds me of how similar the relationships of the Colobus are to our own.
We will keep you informed!
P.S. We haven’t got any pictures of the babies as yet, but they are to come soon!
In March a couple found a bush baby in their hotel room and contacted us on the hotline to find out what they should do. It was assumed that something has happened to the mother because at a young age they are dependent on them. We advised them to bring it down to the Trust so we could take a look at it. When we examined the infant we estimated its age to be around a month and a half old. We nursed it for a few weeks, progressing its food from milk and Cerelac to fruit and various insects until it became obvious it wanted to be more independent! The bush baby has grown so much and is now living in our roof and doing very well. It comes down for food at night as well as hunting for insects by itself. She loves to play and jump around the place and doesn’t keep still for very long! We haven’t named the bush baby but we’ll let you know it’s progress so stay tuned!
The Bush baby shortly after its arrival
Last week we continued planting more indigenous trees. Our aim is to plant 200 trees at the current plot site that we have been targeting and we have already planted over 100 trees at this site and even more at other sites in the area. These efforts will help reestablish the continuous forest in Diani. This has not been an easy task as in many areas coral has proven to be a challenge to dig into. The Diani forests, known as coral rag forests, exist on large and deep beds of coral- it means that slow-growing indigenous trees have a tough time unless we can dig a big enough hole for their roots. We are also encouraging Diani residents to plant indigenous trees on their property to assist us in our project.
Some of the trees we're planting in Diani
We have also made labels to attach to the trees so that we can identify and track them. The aim is to collect data on the progress of different species and learn how to maximize forest growth. The plan for the future is to analyze the collected data in ArcGIS, an advanced mapping program. We hope to discover which species thrive most successfully and change our approach for those species that do not.
Felice clinging on to his love, Emily
In addition, the baby Vervet monkey finally has a name! Parin Streil of Germany won the eBay auction and decided on the beautiful name Emily. Not only are we grateful to have a name for Emily, but also the money generated by the auction to name her is greatly appreciated. Parin has helped the Trust before by reporting the electrocution of Felice’s (our baby Sykes monkey) mother, leading to his rescue. Felice is doing really well with Emily as his playmate.
Thanks for reading,
Haley and Amelia
When the hotline started ringing I answered expecting to hear the usual story of a Vervet or Sykes lying dead on the side of the road, but for once it was happy news! Ricardo, owner of Water Lovers resort, was calling to say a new Colobus baby had been born that morning. I went down to check on it at 3 days old, and it looks very content in the arms of its mother. The proud new parents remained wary of my intrusion, but allowed me to take some photos of the baby, who is tiny, snowy white, and appears to be in good health. We will keep an eye on it on our weekly Colobus checks and we hope that it will thrive.
The baby Colobus with its parents
As a recent volunteer, I am taking to The Colobus Trust blog to explain what I have done so far. I am volunteering for the month of January as a part of my schooling. Home in Canada I have worked as a wildlife educator and a rehabilitator for a wildlife center, I am looking forward to putting my skills to use here at the Trust and learning about the important work that is done here.
On my first day of work I was put to work quickly cleaning and maintaining the cages for the rehabilitation animals. Currently the Trust has 4 Vervet and 2 Sykes monkeys that are getting ready to be released. Most of them are ex-pet or orphaned monkeys (their mothers were killed on the road). Within these cases includes a female Vervet that was rescued from Mombasa where it was found being abused by swinging it around by its tail. The Colobus Trust has also worked very hard with one of the Sykes monkeys which is only here temporarily. It was hit by a car and needed to be hand fed until it was able to eat on its own again. She also had many neurological problems, including loss of vision, which appears to be improving all the time. Thankfully, with the rehabilitation work done by The Colobus Trust, these once helpless cases can be released and live the life they always deserved. The situation helped by donors such as Arusha T., Mark S., Black C. and Susan B. who have donated what they can- it means so much to us, thank you!
While working with these cases the staff ensures that their cages are cleaned and maintained everyday, including replacing old branches and having ropes for them to swing on and participate in normal primate behavior. They are given a variety of food to ensure that they are familiar with a proper diet and increase their success rate upon release. Monkeys that are housed here together often bond and create their own troop to be released together and significantly increase their survival rate after release.
In 3 days I have already learned so much about primate care. The people are so kind and the work is so important. I can’t wait to see what else this month at The Colobus Trust will bring!
All the staff at the Colobus Trust would like to say a huge thank you to all who have helped and supported us in 2009. Whether you’ve bought a bridge, adopted a Colobus, become a member or sponsor or given your time and energy to our cause, we would like to send our heartfelt thanks to you! You enable us to carry on our work here in Kenya to save the Colobus monkey and it’s habitat!
I would also like to say a huge thank you to the staff at the trust. They work so hard and always with a smile!
Wishing you all Happy Holidays and all the best for 2010!
Below: Some of the staff and volunteers at the trust
Some readers may be aware that Erica, the orphaned Sykes monkey who had been living at the Trust since July, died earlier this month. Erica had moved from the main house up to the rehabilitation cages, where we hoped to prepare her for her release into the wild. However, this was not to be. After being found bleeding from a wound on her back, Erica battled for life for over a day before finally passing away. After her death it was discovered that she had internal bleeding and a punctured lung.
Before her death, Erica had discovered that she could still squeeze herself out of the cage. This has lead us to believe that having temporarily moved out of the cage Erica was chased or even pinned down by a Sykes monkey in the local troop. Unfortunately there is no way of us ever knowing.
The loss of Erica will certainly be felt for a long time by anyone who knew her. We can only cherish the wonderful memories she has given us and be thankful that she came into our lives, however briefly.
The Colobus Team
We apologise for the lack of updates recently from the Trust! We’ve had a lot going on which we’ll update you all on in the next few days.
Regular visitors to our blog will know that we rescued a Bush Baby which we named Bahati. He was a favourite with the visiting school children as well as all the volunteers at the trust – even when we had to wake up every 3 hours to feed him! We taught him to jump over short distances and Marvo was building up to the ‘double jump’! Bahati was being fed on a diet of fruit and milk, but efforts to move him onto a diet of insects failed.
Last Monday he became a little weak but seemed to be improving and his appetite returned to normal. He was back to his noisy, active self on Tuesday. However when we woke him for one of his feeds on Wednesday afternoon he was very drowsy and would not feed. His condition did not improve and sadly he passed away later that day. As you all may know raising an infant without tender maternal care is very difficult and we did the best we could in order to see Bahati gradually become a healthy grown up Bush Baby but it was not meant to be.
Above: Our beloved Bahati with Marvo
He really was part of the family and his death has affected us all very strongly. We all miss him very much.
Thanks for reading and look out for our next update coming soon…
The Colobus Team.
The Vervet-Sykes hybrid data collection has become rather frustrating recently as he become quite hard to find. When he has been found, the hybrid has still been looking quite battle-scarred! The old injury to his front leg seems to be still hurting him as he holds it at an odd angle and limps on it. He has recently also received a bite to his tail, which whilst being superficial looks quite painful. The bad gash to the hybrid’s rear leg, however, appears to be healing up really well- especially considering how bad it looked initially. In other good news, the hybrid has been groomed quite often by one of the female Sykes. Rob, ever dedicated, has collected a faecal sample which we will be sending off soon so that we can get a genetic profile for the hybrid.
The Colobus Team