My primary role whilst I am volunteering at the Colobus Trust is to be the full-time carer to Betsy, the juvenile colobus monkey. I am sure many of you may of heard about Betsy’s story, for those who haven’t Betsy is the first hand-reared Angolan black and white colobus monkey to survive past 53 days old. She is now 11 months old and is slowly being prepared for her release back into the wild. This process will take up to a year yet as this would be the age she would naturally leave her mother and will also be at less risk from injury or even infanticide from the dominant male.
As her carer I spend the majority of the day teaching Betsy to climb trees and encourage her to use the trees which the wild troop of Colobus would use, we refer to this as forest school. In addition to this she is also being encouraged to forage and feed in the trees in order to prepare for life in the wild.
To date Betsy is learning extremely fast, she is spending an increased amount of time foraging in the trees and eating a colobus approved diet! The mornings are usually spent climbing in her favourite trees and picking out tasty leaves and buds to feed on. The wild colobus would naturally spend the majority of the morning foraging and feeding intensively in the trees, and will begin to rest in order to digest their food during the hottest hours of the day. So it really is great to see that Betsy is following a similar routine to that of the wild troop, as she will feed and play in the trees up until around 11am. To indicate that she is getting sleepy Betsy will initiate play and then will enjoy being groomed before falling asleep for an hour or so. Her sleep requirement is usually dependent upon how active (physically and mentally) her morning was, and how much she ate.
Betsy generally wakes up just after midday. Once awake Betsy is rejuvenated and ready to explore and climb some more trees! Tree climbing will usually take place in the garden, as this is where the majority of Betsy’s favourite trees are situated, but if Betsy is feeling extra energized and brave then we will venture into the nature trail. The nature trail is the Trust’s private forested area, which is like a playground for Betsy with lots of interesting smells, sounds, wildlife and trees to climb! The Sykes monkeys are often located in the nature trail too, which seems to amuse Betsy as she likes to play chase with them through the trees and bushes. Where there is Sykes, there is usually colobus nearby too, so it is not unusual to spot one of the home troops resting in the nature trail as well. Because of these factors the nature trail is an ideal environment for Betsy to be in, as what she experiences when training in here will be beneficial towards her release with the wild troop in the future.
We currently have a baby genet at the Colobus Trust which was found a few weeks ago being played with by a troop of vervet monkeys at the Diani Reef Hotel. The genet was weak and exhausted and showed signs of nerve and muscular damage from the incident, along with a small wound on her front left paw.
The Trust took her in and has assigned three volunteers to act as foster mothers to care for the genet, who is fed Cerelac cereal mixed with milk, and egg yolk every four hours and water every two hours in-between. The baby is taking the food well and is growing, becoming stronger and more active. She is a beautiful animal who has surprised everyone with her recovery, so the members of the Trust decided to call her Maridadi, which means “beautiful” is Swahili. Despite Maridadi’s great recovery from her nerve and muscular injuries she is still being cared for and monitored very closely because she has taken up the habit of biting her front paw, where the small wound was. No one is sure why this is happening, however, during one of her feeds Maridadi caused further damage to her toes. The Trust patched her up and she now wears a cone around her head to keep her from biting. The wound healed well and she was getting more mobile day by day. During feedings her cone was taken off and she was watched closely as she was allowed to run around the volunteer space to stretch her legs. Unfortunately, very recently Maridadi sneaked in another bite while being allowed to run around without her cone on. The lasting damage is still unknown but she may lose a toe. Again, the Trust has treated the wound and is no longer taking off her cone for feedings which means she will struggle to move as much as before.
Regardless of the damage Maridadi is a lively little baby who is growing quickly and all of us here at the Trust hope she recovers swiftly and will learn to leave her paw alone. In fact, just this week Maridadi ate her first bits of chicken and may be graduating from baby food to a more natural genet diet. But as long as Maridadi has her cone on she cannot feed herself so volunteers must give her either food or water every two hours around the clock. It is a tiring job but worth it as we watch her grow. The thoughts now are that Maridadi will join the Trust as a resident animal. Once she is grown and can feed herself she will be allowed to have free roam of the area but will be fed here at the Trust to keep her from eating the neighbor’s chickens. Genets are nocturnal mammals, so once Maridadi is old enough to care for herself she will be out at night and sleeping during the day. For now we enjoy Maridadi’s playful spirit and are doing our best to keep her healthy and figure out how to break her dangerous habit of biting.
Donate at http://www.justgiving.com/colobus-trust
By Molly Parren
October has seen some changes at The Colobus Trust in the form of two new managers, Keith Thompson as the General Manager and Andrea Donaldson as the Conservation Manager. We have come with a very varied background, but for the past year we have been working as Project Managers of the Primate Release Programme at Lilongwe Wildlife Centre in Malawi, and after a year of living in a tent and washing from a bucket we are enjoy the luxury we are currently living in! Prior to this we lived in a small rural community in Cornwall, U.K., where Keith ran the village pub and I worked at The Monkey Sanctuary in Looe as a keeper and education officer.
We have now been in Diani for a little over 2 weeks and we certainly had to hit the ground running. In the first week we received 10 emergency monkey call outs – 15 is the average amount the Colobus Trust normally receives in a month. We saw a whole range of injuries from road traffic accidents to electrocutions – resulting in our first amputation, a suspected poisoning and one lone Colobus who had just lost his troop.
As we slowly find our feet, we are increasingly looking forward to the challenges ahead and hope we can do our little bit to help brighten the future of the Colobus Monkey and conserve the Coral Rag Forest.
In the last month, Kenya Wildlife Service has recognised Colobus angolensis, the type of Colobus monkey that lives here in Diani, as Nationally Threatened. As a whole this sub-species of Black and White Colobus is fairing comparatively well, thanks to large populations in remote forests of Tanzania, however, here in Kenya it is a different story.
Habitat loss is of course the number one issue threatening this forest dependent species. However, habitat loss is threatening most species of primates across the country. In response to this The Colobus Trust joined a consortium of people and organizations lead by KWS and the International Primate Research Institute in the development of the National Primate Strategy – focusing on those species requiring urgent conservation, such as the Colobus in Diani.
We hope that this updated status will enable The Colobus Trust to raise awareness of this amazing creature’s plight around the world.
The Colobus monkey and the squirrel, wild pig, baboon, eagle and chameleon all danced and sang together amongst the mango trees, baobab and coconut palm. We could see smiles on their faces and sometimes some of them started to cry. This was all part of a performance by the children from the Aga Khan nursery school in Mombasa for their graduation ceremony! The play is based on the book ‘Come Find Me’ by Jacquelin Nazareth, which tells a funny story about the flora and fauna to be found in Diani forest. The colourful costumes of animals, flowers, fruits and trees reflected the characters from the Diani Forest and delighted the audience of hundreds: parents, sisters, brothers, friends and other students. Performing the story about protecting the environment was clearly as much fun for children as it was for the spectators and it is an innovative way for them to learn and teach others about the importance of looking after the forests and its inhabitants.
The children enjoy performing for their audience
Aga Khan Nursery invited the executive director of the Colobus Trust, Eirik Jarl Trondsen, to attend the event as guest of honor to talk about the efforts to protect Diani Forest and most notably the Angolan Colobus. Eirik was very happy to give a small speech and he handed over the graduation certificates to the students. The Colobus Trust had a stand in the hall, where the volunteers explained what we do, and it was great to have so many people interested in our activities.
Eirik handing over the graduation certificates
You can found more about the book ‘Come Find Me’ by Jacquelin Nazareth at www.fandangoduo.com
By Claire Deroy and Kennedy Liti and Cara Braund
As promised, here is a photo of one of our mothers with her snow-white baby.
They are still very elusive!
With the number of primates needing the help of the Colobus Trust, we’ve been expanding our facilities to reach our main aim of releasing happy and healthy monkeys back into the wild! Currently standing between the vet clinic and not far from the entrance of the meandering nature trail is the nearly complete quarantine shelter for monkey rehabilitation.
This area will be such a vital part of the rehabilitation for the monkeys, especially so with the Colobus monkeys. The Colobus monkeys need to be treated rapidly as keeping these majestic creatures in captivity can be stressful fort the animal. The Colobus have such specific diets and because of this they are constantly roaming for food. We usually aim to release them within 72 hours in order to reduce the effect of captivity. As the quarantine is separate to the big rehabilitation cages we can focus on individuals and release them back to their homes. Another reason why the quarantine is important is because however beautiful and calm the Colobus appear when gracefully sitting in the trees they are extremely territorial. If they see another who isn’t part of their troop they won’t think twice about attacking them, which will further stress and hinder the progress of the captive monkey!
The previous structure was old, weak and just not suitable anymore, so on the 27th of April 2010 we organised a quiz at Ngiri Bar and Restaurant and managed to raise 70,000 Ksh – a fantastic amount that went towards the creation of the new quarantine. Following this, over the last month or so, both the volunteers and staff have been working extremely hard to re-build the quarantine area. The project is nearing completion with the final touches being added in the next week. We’re all very excited about getting the first patients in to their new shelter! We have such a range of primates with a wider range of problems, some recovering after operations and others who have been taken from their troops to be sold as pets. The new quarantine will give us the best possible chance of releasing these animals back to their natural habitat and families!
The past couple of weeks we have been working hard planting trees at several different plot sites. At each site we spend the first few days digging holes and then we plant saplings and water them. It is a very good time to be planting trees due to the rainy season. These trees will mainly serve as additional food sources for the Colobus monkeys and other monkey species, as well as contribute to forest growth in the region.
One day last week when we had finished tree planting for the day, we received an animal welfare call. We went to a local restaurant, African Pot, where a guest led us to a power line where a Colobus monkey had been electrocuted. As a new volunteer, this was the first time I had seen an electrocuted monkey and it was heartbreaking, especially since the Colobus is such a rare species and also because this kind of electrocution is preventable. Electrocution by power lines is a major issue because often the monkeys use them to cross the road or to other trees. Another problem is that telephone lines, which are harmless, are indistinguishable from the dangerous power lines. The eventual aim of the Colobus Trust is for the power lines in Diani to be completely insulated so that monkeys would not die when coming into contact with them. In the meantime, the Trust pursues short-term solutions. For example, this week we have been hard at work trimming trees near power lines, which makes it less likely that monkeys will come close to the power lines. It gets more intensive to tree-trim during the rainy season because of all the new growth on the trees! This week we also completely rebuilt a large Colobridge. Each bridge ensures that monkeys can safely cross the road and they are used thousands of times before they need replacing.
The rest of our time recently has been spent doing routine activities. During Colobus Checks on Mondays, we documented two troops of Colobus with a total of 25 monkeys, which is an impressive count. The baby Sykes and the baby Vervet are getting bigger every day and it is beginning to hurt when they nibble on our fingers.
Dear Readers: Some pictures in this blog you may find distressing.
We are Joyce and Angelique and we are volunteers at the Colobus Trust. In Holland we both work as nurses and here we’ve been helping John in the vet clinic. Recently we’ve been really shocked by seeing an electrocuted bush baby and an electrocuted colobus.
Last week someone brought a bush baby to us that had been electrocuted. Both his legs and feet and one hand were affected. One of his lower-legs had gone completely, the other was badly maimed and on his hand only the bones remained. Due to the fact that the bush baby didn’t have any feeling in his arms or legs he started eating himself in his cage. The only thing we could do is to put him out of his misery because he was suffering too much. It was terrible to see the bush baby electrocuted and in pain like that.
Above: The Bush Baby with his injuries
Today we got a phone call on the Colobus Trust hotline. We were told that there was a Colobus which had fallen down into a room of a derelict hotel. The person who called told us that the Colobus’ leg was broken. We responded to this call and went to the location and when we arrived we saw the Colobus was sitting on a balcony. We tried to capture him but yet he was still strong and tried to get away. Staff members John and Peter captured the colobus with a net. At that moment we saw his injuries were very serious. Both his legs and his arm were broken. It was discovered that he fell down from an electric wire after being electrocuted. His feet and his hand were still there but one of his legs was only hanging by a bit of skin. It was really horrible to see how the Colobus was suffering.
Above: The Colobus in the clinic
Below: The injuries caused by electrocution and the subsequent fall
We put him in a cage and brought him to the surgery. The vet gave him an injection directly straight into his heart. The Colobus died- unfortunately we couldn’t save him. He would never be able to survive in nature without his feet and his hand.
It has really been a sad week to see these horrible things happening. There are huge lengths of electricity wires here everywhere and primates don’t know they can’t touch them. Obviously the human population need the wires but many animals die because of this. The trust adapts tubing for insulation which goes around the wires so monkeys can pass without getting electrocuted. The trust has already done some good work on the wires but we still need funding to get more wires insulated to save more monkeys.
Help us helping and donate to the Colobus Trust.
Joyce and Angelique
Last weekend some people from the Ocean Village Club came to the trust with a package which we later found out was a dead Colobus monkey. They told us the monkey had been electrocuted in their compound. A fight involving Colobus monkeys had occurred and in the process of the brawl one of them accidentally grasped on to an uninsulated electric wire and sadly died on the spot.
This is yet another perfect example of why we need to insulate the power lines in the Diani area. Here at the trust we do the best we can to allocate enough funds for wire insulation but we are not able to do it alone. As you all know we are a non-profit making organisation which means the funds we get are limited. Together, however, we can help save and conserve the endangered black and white Angolan Colobus monkey- whomever you are, wherever you are, you can make a difference by donating towards the purchase of tubes to help insulate the electricity wires and it’s only $2.50 for 4 metres of tube. Please donate now if you can!