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!
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
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!
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
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…
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
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!!
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,
Looking for and removing snares is a vital and regular piece of work for staff and volunteers at the Trust. Hunting is illegal in Kenya after being banned in 1977, but we know that some forms of hunting still carry on. One way of hunting small animals in forests is to lay a snare on the ground. The snares can be loops of wire tied around trees or spring traps which lie covered on the ground and then catch the animal and snap it into the air if it happens to walk over it. These traps are laid by poachers to capture Suni antelope, dik dik, bush pig, and other animals. Monkeys also get trapped in these snares although they are not set to catch them intentionally.
The skull found in the forest
On one regular visit to a forest near the Flamboyant hotel we had a grisly find. In the undergrowth, we found a wire snare that still had a skull attached to it. A Suni had got caught with the snare around its neck and there was evidence of burnt skin and fur attached. We can only guess that the animal was burnt when a section of forest caught fire, but we don’t know if it was still alive at the time.
The Suni was still attched to the wire snare
On another day a group of us were out looking for snares in Kaya Ukunda. Kayas are sacred forests, which are under increasing pressure due to human population pressures and lack of respect for elders of the tribes who look after the Kayas. Within minutes of entering the forest, we had all found some snares. Much to our horror, a few minutes later we also found some of the men who were probably responsible for laying them! A group of at least five or six men came walking past us on the forest trail, carrying arrows and full sacks on their backs. We kept walking but then realised there were more hunters in the forest as we could hear the two groups were communicating with each other through a series of whistles. The second group also started making their way towards us and being heavily outnumbered we headed off in a different direction. While we were unable to take any action at the time the encounter will be reported and we will continue to make desnaring trips to Kaya Ukunda.
This is a simple ladder-like structure invented by the Colobus Trust which is put across the road to enable monkeys to cross safely between the forest on either side. As the number one monkey-killer in Diani, road traffic accidents continue to rob us of our population of monkeys.
You can just see John at the top of the picture ready to attach a bridge!
In 1999 when I joined the Colobus Trust, I took a keen interest in wanting to know the significance of the Colobridges. My main focus was to see the factors considered before one was put up in an area. Territorial boundaries and crossing points formed the basis of my research and a Colobridge would be put up in areas where monkeys crossed more often. Diani has sixty eight families of Colobus monkeys; the Colobridges erected so far are only serving twenty two families. Helping more families of monkeys cross the road safely is ever challenging. More monkeys are still vulnerable to road accidents because there no Colobridges within their crossing points. The remaining families are still kept vulnerable to being killed on the road.
John braving the heights of the Colobridge
Galvanized wires, conduit pipes, rubber hose pipes, chain links, d-shackles, wire grips and turn buckles are what it takes to build a Colobridge. It takes passion to contribute towards building a Colobridge and it takes a great effort to help save the life of a monkey. To conserve heritage is expensive but it is almost impossible to regain it once lost.
John-Animal Welfare Officer and Field Assistant, Colobus Trust.
As a recent volunteer, I am taking to The Colobus Trust blog to explain what I have done so far. I am volunteering for the month of January as a part of my schooling. Home in Canada I have worked as a wildlife educator and a rehabilitator for a wildlife center, I am looking forward to putting my skills to use here at the Trust and learning about the important work that is done here.
On my first day of work I was put to work quickly cleaning and maintaining the cages for the rehabilitation animals. Currently the Trust has 4 Vervet and 2 Sykes monkeys that are getting ready to be released. Most of them are ex-pet or orphaned monkeys (their mothers were killed on the road). Within these cases includes a female Vervet that was rescued from Mombasa where it was found being abused by swinging it around by its tail. The Colobus Trust has also worked very hard with one of the Sykes monkeys which is only here temporarily. It was hit by a car and needed to be hand fed until it was able to eat on its own again. She also had many neurological problems, including loss of vision, which appears to be improving all the time. Thankfully, with the rehabilitation work done by The Colobus Trust, these once helpless cases can be released and live the life they always deserved. The situation helped by donors such as Arusha T., Mark S., Black C. and Susan B. who have donated what they can- it means so much to us, thank you!
While working with these cases the staff ensures that their cages are cleaned and maintained everyday, including replacing old branches and having ropes for them to swing on and participate in normal primate behavior. They are given a variety of food to ensure that they are familiar with a proper diet and increase their success rate upon release. Monkeys that are housed here together often bond and create their own troop to be released together and significantly increase their survival rate after release.
In 3 days I have already learned so much about primate care. The people are so kind and the work is so important. I can’t wait to see what else this month at The Colobus Trust will bring!
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 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]