Tag Archives: Colobus Trust

My First Day

Kelly Martin arrived on March 1st and is here for six months as Betsy primary day carer. Read below for her first impressions of the Colobus Trust.

On my arrival I was welcomed firstly by the scorching heat and second by my very friendly taxi driver. The drive to Diani Beach took just under hour and half but went pleasantly fast. When I finally got to the Trust I was welcomed by Andrea the manager who had a young Colobus attached to her side called Betsy, who I will be fortunate enough to be working with over the coming 6 months.

I was shown to my room; it is a nice size with a maximum of 4 to a room and a shared bathroom. I was surprised by the available wardrobe space and the pleasant communal areas. I went on a tour shortly after, while the Trust is smaller than I had expected it is more than big enough for the animals it houses. The site is also frequent visited by wild baboons, Sykes monkeys and the black and white Angolan colobus by day and later at night bushbabies.

After I was shown all the work and living quarters and was introduced to some of the staff, I was shown the Beach, a minute walk from the volunteer house. It is breath taking with beautiful white sands and blue seas. I will enjoy spending my days off here as well as exploring the area. The whole time Betsy was with us sometimes running off to a new noise or catching something in her eye line to play with.

Later that day at dinner I was able to meet the other volunteers. The food was great and I was pleased to see there is a good variety of both traditional Kenyan and western food. I went to bed early to catch up on much needed sleep, from what I have seen today I think I will enjoy it here!

My volunteer experience at the Colobus Trust with Baby Betsy – Abi Walker

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.

Betsy at Forest School

More than Monkeys: One volunteers experience of taking care of an orphaned Genet

On her first day in our care

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

Enjoying her early morning excerise

Exhausted after 10 minutes of play

More than just monkeys! Turtle nest relocation with the Colobus Trust

It was sunny for a change the morning of 8 July when the call came through that a sea turtle had nested overnight in front of the Nomad hotel in Diani Beach. Cara, the Manager of the Colobus Trust, and Denise, a volunteer with experience dealing with sea turtles, jumped into the tuk-tuk and rode the 2 km to the hotel. A short walk down the beach and it was obvious where the nest was. The tracks were perfect – one set coming out of the water to the nest and the second set heading back to the sea.  The nest was huge – definitely a large green turtle (Chelonia mydas), which is the largest and most common of the three species of sea turtles that nest regularly on our beaches.


Turtle tracks leading up to the nest. Photo by D. Rennis

It was also obvious from the location of the nest, that the elevation was far too low and that the nest would not survive the constant flooding by high tide. Turtle eggs can survive a bit of water, but if they sit in too much water for too long a period, development stops and the eggs fail to hatch. Thinking quickly, Cara and Denise decided to call in Captain Ali from the Msambweni Turtle and Marine Conservation Group (MTMCG), who readily agreed to come up to Diani Beach after working at Wasini Island and help relocate the nest.

There they are! Photo by D. Rennis

There they are! Photo by D. Rennis

Captain Ali arrived with Zitto, also from the MTMCG, and together with Denise, they probed the nest, looking for the egg chamber. Within a half hour of careful probing and digging, SUCCESS! The egg chamber was found and ‘pole pole’ 149 eggs were carefully removed and placed in the exact same orientation in a plastic bucket to be taken to a new nest on Msambweni beach.

After a bumpy ride with Captain Ali carefully balancing the bucket on his lap and Cara trying (not always successfully) to avoid the potholes, we reached at the beach in Msambweni. Captain Ali and Zitto identified the new location for this nest, which was much higher up in elevation and more isolated than we could find at any of the Diani beaches. Captain Ali and Zitto started digging to create a nest that was the exact size as the nest the turtle had created in Diani.

149 eggs! Photo by D. Rennis

149 eggs! Photo by D. Rennis

Then, pole pole, each egg was placed back in the hole with the original bottom eggs – now at the top of the bucket- going in first to be, once again, on the bottom of the egg chamber. The nest was then covered and the location recorded so that in 60 days, Captain Ali and Zitto can check whether the turtles have hatched. Once there are signs that they have hatched, the nest will be reopened and any unhatched eggs will be counted to determine the percentage hatching. Here’s hoping that this turtle’s hatching success will be100%!

Zitto (left) and Captain Ali creating the new nest. Photo by D. Rennis

Zitto (left) and Captain Ali creating the new nest. Photo by D. Rennis

The end of a successful day! Photo by D. Rennis

The end of a successful day! Photo by D. Rennis

A Baby in the Woods

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!

Edwardo’s Frown

About two weeks ago here at The Colobus Trust we got a call about an injured monkey. The caller explained that a ‘small brown monkey’ had been seen around the hotel that was totally unable to use its back legs. He was one elusive disabled monkey; it took us over half an hour to find him. This was our first encounter with sad Edwardo. A 5-month-old vervet monkey, with the biggest frown I’ve ever seen, who was totally unable to move his body from his legs down.

The only the way he could have survived as long as he has is because of his mother’s care. But soon he would be too big for her milk, or to be carried around. Although vervets are mostly terrestrial during the day, at night they will find trees to sleep in to protect themselves from predators and sometimes eat the leaves from high branches. There is no way Edwardo could climb a tree by himself.

So, out came the net and Edwardo’s frown grew. It’s awful taking a wild animal away from its mother. Especially these two, as due to Edwardo’s condition they would be especially close. As soon as the net went down the mother went mad. We had to keep her away with sticks and shouts while she followed us, howling, all the way to the truck. Monkeys will often mourn the loss of family members and even carry around dead infants for days before they will let go. I am sure Edwardo’s mother would have been no different. However, we hope to be able to reunite a happy, healthy Edwardo with a forlorn mother soon.

Once we had captured him we took him straight to the vet to see if he thought Edwardo had a chance of recovery. He concluded that Edwardo had a slipped disc in his spine and an infected cut on his tail, but with steroids and antibiotics, he could recover in a couple weeks. Edwardo did not struggle too much at the vets; he just frowned. Just as if he’d expected all this to happen. As if he knew suffering to be his lot in life, and all he had to do was wait it out.

Edwardo in the clinic

Edwardo in the clinic

The next morning Edwardo had his first treatment back at the Colobus Cottage. Once we had given him his injections and disinfected his wounds, one of our volunteers thought of physiotherapy. This has worked a charm. After only 3 days he could limp across his cage, rather than drag himself. His right leg is improving now, his left is much stronger and he has even begun to struggle with his back legs as well as frown!  We have moved him to a bigger cage, so he can climb branches and test out his newly functioning legs.

Now, if only we could improve that frown…

Infant Bush baby

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 it's arrival

The Bush baby shortly after its arrival

Another week at the Colobus Trust…

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

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

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


What we’ve been up to…

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.



Lucky in some ways…

Last month we had a call about an electrocuted sykes monkey. The death of the monkey was sad enough, but it emerged that the monkey was a mother to an infant monkey that was now orphaned. When we got to the premises we spoke to Miss. Parin Streil who was holding the infant in her hands. She narrated the whole ordeal to us in detail and was really disturbed by the whole tragedy. We examined the infant and established he had no physical injuries then took him back to trust vet clinic for further assessment.

Felice fast asleep soon after his arrival

Felice fast asleep soon after his arrival

Parin was vey concerned about how we would cope with it and if it was going to be ok. I informed her of the adoption programme where concerned animal lovers like herself had the opportunity adopt and help raise infant monkeys by contributing a certain amount as a donation. The donation goes towards the welfare for the infants, enabling us to buy food, enrichment items and veterinary supplies. The support of adopters is very important because we are a charitable organisation and so have limited funds.

He's not as grumpy as he looks!!

He's not as grumpy as he looks!!

Miss. Streil requested to name the infant Felice which means happy in Italian. Felice is indeed happy and enjoying life at the Trust. He will be given a chance of a normal life because when he is big enough he will be in our rehabilitation cages then finally released back to the wild. This will take a lot of time, patience and resources but we are all committed to this course. Meanwhile, he has a friend in our (as yet) unnamed vervet orphan and he even appeared on MSN’s Week in Pictures shortly after his arrival!

We’ll keep you posted on how he’s getting on.

Thanks for reading,