Tag Archives: Primate conservation

A view of the Colobridge

A Colobridge:

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!

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

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.

Treading the treetops

I’m Margi and I’m a new volunteer at the Colobus Trust. I live in the UK where I do freelance work for countryside organizations who want to improve their provision for visitors and local communities, and to help people understand the natural and historical environment better.

So in some ways the Colobus Trust feels really familiar, as its aims are not so different. But of course, the pressures and challenges here in Diani are so much greater, as Kenya’s coastal forest steadily disappears and with it the last refuge of the Angolan Colobus monkey, not to mention all the rest of the animals and plants in this precious ecosystem.

We’ve had a stark reminder of this recently, being greeted in the mornings by the sound of chain-saws from a neighboring property, where the owner is clearing land. At first, we thought our resident Colobus troop had been scared off by the noise, but last week they were back, calmly munching the young leaves of the neem trees that surround the Colobus Trust house, and bouncing on and off our roof before returning to the topmost branches.


This was my first sight of Colobus monkeys in the wild. They are truly stunning animals with their beautiful black coats and flowing white manes. It would be tragic if they disappeared for ever. But they have well-developed survival skills, and it’s good to know our ‘home’ troop is still around.

Today I saw one of the areas where they’re doing well, a three-acre patch of untouched coastal forest, where there are at least five Colobus troops. I was there to help Colobus Trust staffers John and Mwitu to trim the high branches of trees growing close to power lines, to stop Colobus and other monkeys using the high-voltage wires as a convenient walkway.

Electrocution is one of the main causes of death or serious injury for Diani’s primates, and although the Trust rushes to the rescue whenever they hear of a casualty, the victims don’t always survive. In any case, prevention is better than cure! So trimming trees and insulating power lines are important parts of the work. At the moment the Trust is running a big campaign to insulate as many lines as possible. It costs just $1 a meter to make the wires monkey-proof, but there are thousands of meters to do, so the Trust urgently needs donations for this work!


John and Mwitu are fearless climbers, shinning up a wobbly extended ladder to gain a precarious foothold in the trees, before lopping off high branches with a razor-sharp machete. I didn’t trust myself on the ladder, and I don’t think the others trusted me with a machete! So I stayed on the ground and cleared up the fallen branches, dragging them into the forest where they’ll sustain all sorts of mini-beasts and eventually rot down into the soil.

One of the local Colobus troops came by to check us out before we started work, and later in the morning we were inspected by three Suni (Africa’s smallest antelope) and a Waterbuck. Patches of forest like this one support an amazing array of wildlife, and it can survive alongside people – not just in parks and reserves – as long as we give it enough space and take care that our actions don’t needlessly destroy it. I can see for myself that the Trust does a great job getting this message across and backing it up with practical action.


  The entire compound is full of tents and very busy people. Their tents are blue, green, and red, but their overland truck is yellow and always clean. They’re called Great Primate Handshake (GPH) and they’re here to help with our projects and share some knowledge – about the internet, digital media, film-making and teaching techniques. Monday morning one of the Colobus Trust directors, Luciana, was here as usual to greet her Colobus Trust ‘family’, but this morning she had more news than the daily greetings. There was a new member in our troop for adopters. On Sunday, a white infant Colobus was born! We named the new baby GPH in honour of the visiting volunteer group. I would like to inform those interested in adopting a cute new infant, to take this opportunity. Thanks to GPH group for choosing the Colobus Trust and we would like to welcome the young GPH into the family.  It’s my hope that other groups will be interested in the Colobus Trust, particularly our camping site and am looking forward for new adopters for the new member. Remember you can adopt through our website as well. So let’s say ‘long life’ to little GPH!


This week our education day was a little different with the involvement of GPH. Another Tuesday and most of the people around are busy preparing for the school workshop. But today we have more participants than usual. There are cameras at every corner of the Colobus Trust premises. The kids moved in through the cameras and immediately loved it. One of the Great Primate Handshake members showed an entertaining cartoon they had made on problems affecting Colobus and other monkeys in the area. The kids then divided in two groups, one were ‘animals’ and one were ‘humans’ and had a hot debate about how they use trees. Then it was off to the beach, where we managed to collect more than ten kilograms of sandals in less than half an hour – all this was waiting to kill our marine life at some point. This was on our waste management topic. Thanks to Magutu Primary for the dedicated beach clean up. The sandals will be used be local artists to make things – like the whale shark (shujaa) made from flip-flops which stands in Haller Park in Mombasa  Most of the kids loved the beach football, and they were all covered in sand by the end of it.  My request to you is, please wherever you are, avoid littering the beach and if possible pick up any rubbish while you are there, walking or jogging. Once again thanks for supporting our education programme through our blog.

Hamisi – Education, Marketing and Communication.