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
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.
Poverty is complex. One can never truly fault a person who is driven by the sole motive of putting a decent meal in front of their family should they be forced into illegal actions in order to do so. But when actions are taken purely for greed and self gain, for a sickening desire to accumulate more and more wealth at the cost of the environment and its inhabitants, it is a lot easier to confront but so much more difficult to do anything about. Conservation in Africa is a mixture of the two and there is not a place on the continent that has not been affected by the misery of poverty and the avarice of the wealthy.
And as if it is not hard enough in Kenya to deal with our own corruption and greed, we are often landed with foreign riffraff who think that this is Africa so they can do what they want. The Kenyan coastline has always been prime choice for spoils.
Chale Island, a beautiful little paradise south of Diani is under attack once again.
The other day, the Colobus Trust was informed that a foreigner had bought a plot at Chale Island, and had cut down with electric chain saw some very old (200+ years) beautiful indigenous trees and very old mangroves.
We have left contact numbers with the island security who have been instructed to call us as soon as the culprits return. On receiving a report from them our collective intention is to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators including the land owner. A clear message has been sent.
The Forestry Department is particularly keen to follow up. The ignorance of the clearing operation with a view to ‘development’ is frankly blinding and completely unnecessary. Some of the felled trees and mangroves are estimated to be around 200 years old and irreplaceable. You will see from the photos that any further cutting will encroach both further into the forest and the water line.
If you are aware of any similar grotesque actions, please use the NEW HOT LINE to report incidences of FOREST DESTRUCTION, CUTTING OF INDIGENOUS TREES, CHARCOAL MAKING, ETC.
The number is : 0800 2212323 and the people concerned are:
PERMANENT SECRETARY : MR WAMACHAI
DEPUTY PERMANENT SECRETARY : MR PETER KAMWERE
PUBLIC RELATIONS : MNRS MARY NGARUMA