Tag Archives: diani

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

Betsy meets Felice

Yesterday we introduced Betsy to Felice for some monkey play time!


Felice is a one year old male Sykes monkey, who came to the Colobus Trust in March 2010 after being orphaned when his mother was electrocuted. He was hand raised in the house by the volunteers, just like Betsy. For much of the last year Felice has been living in the rehabilitation enclosures with 10 other vervet and Sykes monkeys.
In the Diani Forest, Colobus monkeys most commonly associate with Sykes monkeys and the youngsters can spend many happy hours running through the trees playing. Since we do not have any other captive Colobus monkeys at the Trust and given Felice’s background combined with his continued dependence on humans and that he is around the same size as Betsy, it was decided he was the best choice for a playmate.
Felice was removed from the main enclosure and placed in one of our rescue crates; the crate was moved and put into our bushbaby enclosure, which is situated away from all the other monkeys and therefore limited interference from them. Betsy and I then climbed into the bushbaby enclosure and the doors were locked behind us. For the first 10 minutes Betsy moved around the enclosure by herself and we were able to assess the response of Betsy to Felice and Felice to Betsy – they spent much of the time cooing at each other through the mesh. When we were satisfied that there was no signs of aggression between them I opened the crate door and let them meet.
There was not a lot of contact between the two monkeys, Felice tried on a many occasions to groom Betsy, but Betsy ran away after a few seconds, and when Felice wasn’t looking Betsy would reach out and quickly stroke her tail or back but would run away when Felice turned to interact. However, the monkey’s communicated on other levels, they continued to coo at one another and had several incidents of non threatening eye contact.
After around 40 minutes I opened up the crate door and Felice quickly entered (probably due to the piece of mango in there) and he was returned to the vervets and Sykes in the rehabilitation enclosure without any adverse effects. Within 10 minutes of leaving the enclosure Betsy was fast asleep, apparently exhausted from the mornings excitement.
There next meeting will occur in a few days time and my aim is to observe from the outside this time rather than be part of the interaction.

The Story of Kijiji

Sadly, Kijiji died two days after this blog was written. However, due to the major impact she had the lives of the staff and volunteers here at the Trust we decided we would still like to share this experience.
For those of you who closely follow the Colobus Trust’s updates and stories, you will know that we recently celebrated the survival of baby Betsy; the longest lived hand-reared Angolan black and white Colobus monkey. Betsy is now four months old and like any young child she is driving the house crazy with her lively antics. Betsy now runs, jumps, and leaps all over the place, knocking down any object that can fall along the way; she is eating leaves and actually able to stand a few moments away from mum. It would appear from all of this that Betsy is a healthy young monkey and that we have succeeded in figuring out just what this little Angolan Colobus needs to be happy and strong. However, there is now a big change in Betsy’s life because we are happy to announce we have another infant Angolan Colobus in our care; Betsy’s adopted baby sister, Kijiji.
Baby Kijiji (meaning ‘village’ in Swahili) is now 28 days old (on May 17, 2011) and is the Trust’s second longest hand-reared Angolan Colobus monkey, and while she is strong just like her big sister, she is a completely different monkey. Unlike Betsy, who the Trust came to care for in her second week of life, we found Kijiji on what was most likely her first day in this world. Kijiji was discovered at a local hotel called Kijiji Cottages as a tiny, completely white Colobus with a long umbilical cord still attached to her and eyes fogged from a recent birth.
The staff at Kijiji cottages told us that they had been aware of the baby from 9am when they first heard an infant screaming in the Colobus troop that spends time on their plot. After closer examination it became clear that it was not the infant’s mother that was holding on to the baby but a male in the troop who was visibly unsure of what to do with the screaming fluff ball in his arms. Apparently the male continually left the baby alone in the trees as he fed with the troop and after a time would return for her and repeat the process. It was clear that the baby was distressed and hungry but no other monkeys in the troop responded to her calls. At around 2 pm after an entire day of the baby screaming the staff at Kijiji Cottages decided to call the Trust for help. They repeated the story as they knew it and we asked them to keep a close eye on her because we did not want to take her from her troop but it was disconcerting that she had been away from her mum for so long. Mother Colobus monkeys do at times leave their babies with other monkeys in the troop, usually an aunty, a sister or a daughter, as they go to feed and later return for their baby. While we were hopeful, it did not appear that this was what was happening in Kijiji’s case because a mother never leaves a baby for such an extended amount of time. At 2:30 pm the staff at Kijiji Cottages called again to inform us that the male that had been carrying the baby had left her alone on the ground and was no longer coming to collect her. It was at this point that we decided we needed to go to the site and see what was happening for ourselves.
At around 3 pm two of our staff (our manager, Andrea, and a volunteer) arrived at Kijiji cottages to see what needed to be done. The baby was wrapped in a towel inside the office still screaming and the troop was still nearby but paying no attention to the calls of the infant. It was then that we realized just how young the baby was and just how quickly we had to act. After picking the baby up to give it comfort and calm it down we observed the troop to see if any female could be the baby’s mother. No female could possibly have been its mother because every female we could see had an infant of its own, none the same age as Kijiji. It was obvious that Kijiji’s mother was missing and that we would have to take her because too much time had passed and we needed to take action. We are still unsure of what happened to Kijiji’s mother. As of now we are thinking that perhaps her mother died shortly after childbirth but no dead Colobus has been reported so we are unsure. Another possibility is that Kijiji was the weaker of two twins and her mother abandoned her to care for the stronger twin (the staff at Kijiji cottages reported that a new female with a young infant had joined the troop near their hotel days after we picked up Kijiji and may be her mother, we have yet to verify).
The outlook was not great For Kijiji because Angolan Colobus monkeys that come in at such a young age usually die fairly quickly due to their fragile nature. Nonetheless we gave Kijiji an adoptive mother to hold on to her and feed her a rehydration solution from a bottle because dehydration was our primary concern. Kijiji took the solution quite well despite her continued state of distress and we later began to feed her a diluted bottle of goat’s milk (we started with a 20% milk, 80% water mixture and have been upping the percentage of milk ever since). We also fed the baby a small amount of Colobus feces in her bottle of milk that we had collected from the troop which we hoped would give her the good Colobus bacteria that her stomach needed to digest the milk we fed her. As we let Kijiji feed we noticed bruising around her eyes that seemed indicative of being dropped but other than the bruising she showed no signs of trauma so we were not concerned.
We took the following weeks day by day; responding to Kijiji’s calls and indications of what she needed and working off of what we knew from raising Betsy. The information we had from raising Betsy was extremely helpful in rearing Kijiji but we learned very quickly that these are two very different monkeys with different temperaments and what worked for Betsy would not always work for Kijiji. Regardless, Kijiji exceeded all of our expectations and within a few days at the Trust she was very vocal about her needs, mainly: scream if you are hungry, scream if you are wet or covered in poo, and scream if you are cold. She quickly started to focus her eyes and discover her body, she began grabbing at things, whipping her tail, and experimenting with her legs. Kijiji is also slowly changing color and appears more and more black to us each day as she matures into a young Colobus. Unlike Betsy, Kijiji is a big eater who will eat until she is so full she vomits so we had to quickly figure out how to feed her to the point of satisfaction without making her sick. All the while we are very conscious of Kijiji’s hydration levels because that is what becomes most dangerous for a young Colobus, dehydration. There have been a few times where Kijiji has scared us due to her dehydration levels, the presence of diarrhea, and the occasional quiet and/or weak day. Regardless of these few bad days Kijiji remains very strong for the most part and never passes up a meal.
Kijiji is yet another hopeful case for us at the Colobus Trust and we enjoy each moment with her despite the consistent cries for food. We are very happy to have yet another healthy Colobus and hope that we have discovered what it is that young Colobus monkeys need. In the meantime we are doing our best to keep both Kijiji and Betsy healthy and hope that soon Betsy will have a fellow playmate and that the two will give us a moment’s rest. Thanks to all of you who have supported us and aided us in the two monkey’s care, we are grateful for your help and excited for the future.
Sadly, Kijiji passed away on the morning of 19th May. She had developed a cold, which had been caught from one of her carers. Unfortunately, this virus very quickly developed into pneumonia which Kijiji was unable to survive. As a four week old, hand reared infant, Kijiji had no immunity to help her fight infection. Infant primates rely on their Mother’s milk to provide antibodies, until their own immunity become active at around 6-8 weeks old. Her autopsy also revealed an enlarged liver – we are still gathering advice on the significance, if any, of this. She was only with us for 30 days, but we learnt a lot from Kijiji, her passing has left a large hole in the day to day live of the Colobus Trust.
Kijiji you were loved and will be sadly missed by all those who knew you.

http://www.justgiving.com/colobus-trustWith Molly her primary carer
Kijiji the afternoon she arrived

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

2 new managers and a whole lot of monkeys

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.
Best wishes
Andrea x

Colobus angolensis is now nationally threatened!

Dear Supporters,

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.

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.

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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

Mother and Child

As promised, here is a photo of one of our mothers with her snow-white baby.

They are still very elusive!

They are still very elusive!

Quarantine Developments

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!