Tag Archives: kplc

Working with Camps International

So far in 2009 The Colobus Trust has hosted two groups of Camps International students. This is just one example of how we work together with, and host, other organisations to facilitate and promote the vast majority of our work.

21 students aged 17-20 joined us at our base for two blocks of five days. Both programs started with an in-house education day during which students. This consisted of a morning of informative lectures focusing on introducing the students to Colobus Monkeys, Colobus Monkey conservation, and a general lecture on safety in the field. They were also told what to expect in the forest. This was followed by an afternoon walking in the forest where they learnt about the history of the local Digo people and their Kaya Forests as well as seeing firsthand the threats posed to the future of Diani Forest.

Students prepare piping at the Colobus Trust

The remaining part of the week was spent working on practical conservation activities. Many of which would not have been possible for us without the increased number of workers we had. Days were spent desnaring, undertaking beach cleanups, caring for and feeding our ex-pet Vervet monkeys, preparing insulation material (above) and much more. Many of our volunteers joined in to help with this.

The extra hands provided by the students allowed us to prepare the insulation material in record time and both programs facilitated the insulation of a hotspot and we covered over a kilometer of cable! Below is a picture of the insulation material being put into place on the Zawama hotspot.

Insulating the powerlines

It is thanks to organisations like Camps International, who work alongside and support us, as well as providing core funding, that we are able to carry on much of our work. We look forward to working together again in the future!

The Colobus Team

January – A Dangerous Time To Be A Monkey

The month of January has sadly been a record breaker in terms of primate fatalities.

16 monkeys (Vervet: 2, Sykes: 7, Colobus: 6, Baboons: 1) have been lost in the 26 days January has so far seen. Not only is this a 533% increase on the 3 lost in the whole of December, but it is also a considerable proportion of Diani’s ever-dwindling primate populations. If this rate continues we will be looking at a complete population collapse within primates, over the next decade or less.

The majority of deaths occurred under the wheels of speeding vehicles, with 10 monkeys (Vervet: 2, Sykes: 7, Colobus: 1) being claimed by the road that cuts their habitat in half. A further 6 monkeys (Colobus: 5, Baboons: 1) have been electrocuted to death on the insinuated power lines and transformers that occur through Diani Forest. These two elements of habitat disturbance are unsurprisingly, the biggest threat to Diani’s primates.

Below is a picture of a Colobus we cared for after he was hit by a speeding car, as you can see his jaw was broken meaning he could only eat Bougainvillea porridge.

Chuma in his cage

This notable increase in fatalities, when compared to last month’s figures, is sadly an explainable trend and mankind is irrefutably guilty. Although it has not been statistically proven, it is hypothesised to occur because of two factors. Firstly, the increased human traffic that occurs during this peak of the tourist season. This leads to an increase in not just road traffic, but the pedestrian traffic also makes monkeys more unlikely of coming to the ground. Thus leading them to come into contact with power lines more frequently. The second factor is caused by the current climate. We are in the middle of the “dry season” and therefore monkeys are moving further in search of food and water. These lead monkeys to pass more frequently through areas of conflict. Therefore explaining why our electrocution and road traffic accident hotspots claim even more lives at this time of year. People argue that man is not to blame for this, but reckless drivers and a failure to insulate power lines proves to the contrary.

This knowledge should serve as a brutal reminder to us all. We are facing a very real and imminent future where irresponsible tourism and development will cause the demise of this once glorious forest. Rest assured, the reality is bleak, but The Colobus Trust and its allies will continue the fight to save Diani’s monkeys from the future they currently face, but we need your help and support. Some of our readers will remember the days when Diani was a pioneering beach resort buried deep in the coastal rainforest. Now all that is left of this forest is confined to privately owned patches within hotels and peoples gardens. It is these vulnerable forests that make Diani such a popular tourist destination and something that only takes a little compromise to protect. Something that we should all recognise as our duty. If you need any advice on how to act responsibly please ask our advice. But for a start, simple things such as providing water dishes will make a difference.

Let us hope that, as in previous years, the death toll falls. However the many horrible sites witnessed by members of the Colobus Trust Animal Rescue Unit will stay with us for a long time. Those of you who have stopped for a dead monkey lying on the side of the road will know what we mean and feel our pain.

CK in the Forest

The Colobus Trust will continue its work with core projects such as Colobridge maintenance and Animal Rescue Unit as well as continuing with novel ideas. One of these will to push forward with our primate electrocution hotspot insulation project. This week we are hosting 9 Camp Kenya students, pictured above learning about the forest and undertaking a population check of Kaya Kinondo Forest. This will add to the team as we prepare the insulation material. On Thursday the 29th of January we will be insulating our second hotspot by Zawama. We will then move on to insulate more hotspots. We aim to complete one every two weeks!

Best wishes,

The Colobus Team

We Have New Wheels! Thank You Camps International

Two and a half weeks ago we put out an appeal. The tyres on our sole vehicle were extremely worn down and we could not afford to buy new ones.

Thankfully a saviour came in the form of Camps International who donated four heavy duty tires from their office in Diani. We are extremely gratefully for this generous donation.

We have worked together for a number of years now and have recent made some serious progress on our joint insulation project. For more information on this please visit this blog. There are also many upcoming projects that we are doing in conjunction with Camps International so watch this space!

THANK YOU CAMPS INTERNATIONAL!

Insulating Diani – December Update

On the 9th of September 2008 the Colobus Trust and Camps International worked in collaboration with the Kenya Power and Lighting Company to insulate two of Diani’s Primate Electrocution Hotspots. Now, nearly 3 month later we are looking for the next step.

The pilot project has been a great success. Over 400 meters of cables were insulated and there are holding strong and showing no sign of deterioration after the burning sun and heavy rains they have experienced. There have also been no incidents of electrocution along them. Below is a picture.

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Since completing the pilot project we have been in talks with KPLC. They pledged to cover the costs of insulating the hotspots in a meeting held in August and we have been waiting to see action on their part. It was at this meeting that they also stated that they could be left to deal with the insulation of the transformers we had identified within the “hotspots”. In the last month we have been reassured that KPLC are still going to live up to their promise. We have, however, been asked to wait for them to go through their length procurement process. The events that occurred the other day have, however, confirmed our decision to move on to insulating the rest of the hotspots and hope that the funding comes through at a later date.
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The events that convinced us to take this risky step occurred in the evening of Monday the 1st of December. When the Colobus Trust Animal Rescue Unit received the first electrocution alerts it has had in the last 5 months. What was most shocking was that both incidents were on hotspots and that three cases happened within half an hour of each other.

The first case involved two members of the Leisure Lodge Hotel Colobus Troop. This troop has been decimated by one particular transformer, which in my 14 months has claimed four, but now possibly six, troop member’s lives. In my opinion the transformer is as badly placed as is humanly possible. It is located next to a tin roofed building (see below) at a perfect level to appear as a “step” up to the trees and is easily accessible. Sadly, we turned up to the hotel the staff had not followed our instructions and followed the injured monkeys so we could therefore locate the individuals and tell how badly the injuries were. The troop is now being followed and if injuries are bad enough to warrant capture we will act. Thankfully the Leisure Lodge management have pledged to help finance the insulation of the hotspot on their site.

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The second case was a female Colobus who was found under the power lines at another of our hotspots in Diani. She was brought in to us whilst we were out on the first call. She had an open wound on her chin and her body temperature was way above 40°C. We treated her immediately and were surprised by her strength. The next day we prepared a cage with lots of branches and food for her but sadly she died during the course of the day. This is often the way electrocution cases go, as internal burns are hard to diagnose.

This sudden burst of electrocution cases confused many at the Trust. As it has become apparent, through our years of data collection, that primate electrocution cases are more common around the new-year period. The reasons for this are unproven, but it is my opinion that the increased amount of pedestrian traffic caused by Diani’s “peak season”, when tourists flock to Diani’ Hotels. Where nearly all of the remaining forest and hotspots are found. This increase in movement on the ground makes timid primates, something the Colobus is renowned for, less likely to come to the ground and they therefore choose pathways through trees, where they are more likely to come into contact with live electricity. This theory also explains why there was a noticeable “lull” in primate electrocutions in the aftermath of post-election violence, when all hotels were nearly, if not completely empty. Below is a map showing the un-insulated hotspots in red and the insulated ones in blue. Note how they are all in the coastal stretch, where the hotels are located.

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The events of this week have served as a reminder, to all of us, that immediate action is needed to avoid the horrible suffering Diani’s primates, such as the one pictured below, are put through. The Colobus Trust and Camps International are pressing ahead with the project, without waiting for KPLC to fulfil their side of the deal (though we have been assured, that they will). We are sending out assessment teams to each of the properties within one of our hotspots on it. The teams will come up with an inspection report for each site, detailing the intended work and asking the landowner/proprietor to provide funding for the project.

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We will keep you updated on all progress made.

Regards,

Gwili

The First Step Towards Insulating Diani’s Powerlines

We had a fantastic day yesterday, together with Camp Kenya & KPLC we started insulating and covering powerlines in two areas where previous fatalities have occurred!

 

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Firstly we had to prepare the PVC piping by cutting it laterally. Students and Colobus Trust staff were doing this for most of the day and together cut over 200 meters of piping…all this with only little improvised saws!

  

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We took advantage of a planned power outage for the whole of the south coast to allow us to get a whole days work done. Once the pipes were prepared the KPLC team put them in place covering two of the four lines, thus insulating the span. All together we insulated over 100 meters of lines in two key areas. We hope the success of this pilot project will lead to great things! 

 

Many watched as this momentous occasion occurred and we hope to get more of our hotspots done next week.

 

Below is a photograph of the piping in place 

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We will keep you updated!

Gwili

 

Working Together To Reduce Wildlife Electrocutions – A Breakthrough At Last!

As many of you will already know, the un-insulated power lines that run through Diani Forest are responsible for numerous wildlife fatalities. In the last 4 years The Colobus Trust has recorded over 60 confirmed cases where arboreal primates have been killed instantly by power lines that pass through the forest. Shockingly 46 of these cases were Angolan Colobus Monkeys, claiming more lives than any other threat, natural or manmade. Even more are wounded, where the grounding of current can cook flesh to the bone and result in the loss of limbs and frequently, infection that leads an agonising death.

Arboreal (tree-dwelling) primates natural instinct is to avoid coming down to the ground (where they are more at risk from predators) and they use any available material, natural or otherwise as pathways through the forest. Therefore if human encroachment on a forested habitat is to be non-detrimental to the environment, all power-lines should ideally be underground. But this is expensive. Suitable short-term solutions have been found by trimming back branches allowing access to power-lines. This has been a core part of our Electrocution Management Program for the last 10 years. Where Colobus Trust teams have worked in collaboration with the Kenya Power & Lighting Co. Ltd. Another “longer”-term option we have always considered is insulation. A project we have long been pushing KPLC for.

Thankfully there has been a breakthrough in our work to combat this horrible situation. This was in the form of an idea brought forward in a meeting initiated between the Colobus Trust and KPLC. Joseph Njoroge, Managing Director and CEO, Mr Huko, head of KPLC’s Diani Branch as well as a high-powered team from Nairobi represented KPLC. Also in attendance were the, the Chairperson of the South Coast Residents Association, Volker Bassen & Nimu Njonjo (local resident conservationists who run the East African Whale Shark Trust) and the Colobus Trust’s management & two of the Trust’s Trustees. 

During the meeting Volker suggested a novel idea to combat electrocutions. Using PVC piping, which can slide over the power lines, without need for them to be lowered, then fasted with ties. This would act to insulate the lines and considerably reduce the decline of the species! The initiative steps in this wonderful idea have now begun and we hope KPLC will insulate their pilot project area (one of our identified electrocution hotspots) soon and will update you on progress!

Below is a picture of those in attendance (except one who is behind the camera!)

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This has been a landmark achievement for all involved and we hope that working together with KPLC & other organisations we can really tackle this pressing issue.

 

The Colobus Team