Last week, construction of two new Colobridges was completed. Along with the existing bridges, these latest additions will help the Colobus Trust in our efforts to ensure that the local primate population can roam their territories more freely and safely.
Above: The first bridge up and ready for use!
The first bridge to go up was kindly donated by Diani residents and is located in their grounds at ‘White House’, Diani Beach. The second bridge has been bought as a Christmas present, and not wishing to spoil the surprise, we are keeping the identity of the kind sponsor a secret!
Above: The ladies working hard on the bridge construction
Sponsorship of a Colobridge or adoption of a Colobus Monkey makes a great gift for any special occasion, and is very easy to do. If you would like to have more information on both, please feel free to email [email protected]
After four weeks at the Colobus Trust, it’s almost time for me to fly home to another UK winter. I’ve had a fantastic time here and have been encouraged by the dedication and passion of the team for the colobus monkey and the local ecology as a whole.
During my time here I have enjoyed building colobus bridges, giving eco-tours to tourists and local children, undertaking colobus checks in the local forest and completing the 2009 Monkey Census in Diani and Gongoni forests.
One of the most eye opening experiences has been undertaking de-snaring searches. During one visit we found 12 snares along a 2km transect! It is worrying to think that without the efforts of the trust each of those snares could have caught or injured an animal.
Kenya is a magical place and each day brings new experiences. Like so many before me, I think I might be hooked!
As today is Monday, we went for the typical Monday-event, which is “colobridging” and means more or less to do maintenance work on the colobridges. The colobridges are put up over the Diani Road in “monkey hot-spots” – areas with the most frequent number of monkeys being overrun by cars. As monkeys have permanent passages, bridges that they can use for crossing the road are an efficient way of reducing road kills. The road traffic accidents are the most common accidents reported to our animal welfare hotline, and means a horrible suffering since it often causes fatal internal bleedings instead of instant death.
The maintenance work is very important as there are many bridges, and the smaller features rust or fall off if the bridge is not looked after. The colobridging is not rocket-science, but does certainly require some skills in tree-climbing and is certainly not for those with fear of heights. A team of staff and volunteers arrive to a bridge that needs maintenance, equipped with ladders, pliers, ropes and extra gear, such as new chains or tubes. Then we start the exciting expedition into the high canopies of Diani, and yes – we REALLY climb high up! Usually the team-spirit is good and we encourage each other to reach higher and pull harder. The bridge is tightened, and rusty screws are exchanged to make this the red carpet for our endangered friends, more natural and less lethal than the busy main road downstairs.
We have seen great statistics since the colobridge-programme was initiated. The number of road traffic accidents killing monkeys has decreased with 50% since it was first launched in 1996! However, it costs to keep these bridges up and running. Even today, we had to take one of them down because its supporting pieces were too old and could fall down to the road and cause accidents. Also, we still need more bridges since they only cover a fraction of the road, leaving several “monkey hotspots” exposed to the busy traffic. People can sponsor a new bridge either by donating online or by visiting our website, http://www.colobustrust.org/support_us.html, which includes having a bridge named according to your choice. This also makes a good gift!
Anna Sandahl & Filip Celander, Colobologists