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!
Some readers may be aware that Erica, the orphaned Sykes monkey who had been living at the Trust since July, died earlier this month. Erica had moved from the main house up to the rehabilitation cages, where we hoped to prepare her for her release into the wild. However, this was not to be. After being found bleeding from a wound on her back, Erica battled for life for over a day before finally passing away. After her death it was discovered that she had internal bleeding and a punctured lung.
Before her death, Erica had discovered that she could still squeeze herself out of the cage. This has lead us to believe that having temporarily moved out of the cage Erica was chased or even pinned down by a Sykes monkey in the local troop. Unfortunately there is no way of us ever knowing.
The loss of Erica will certainly be felt for a long time by anyone who knew her. We can only cherish the wonderful memories she has given us and be thankful that she came into our lives, however briefly.
The Colobus Team
We welcomed a new addition to the Colobus Trust yesterday- a Sykes monkey who had been kept as a pet. When she was an infant, her mother was killed in a traffic accident and the driver took pity on her and raised her himself. She is probably one and a half or two years old now and her owner decided that she was becoming too difficult for them to handle, so she was handed over to the National Museums of Kenya, who in turn contacted us.
Her story is like that of many other pet primates who become unmanageable as they become older. While when very young primates are very cute and relatively easy to deal with, as they grow and mature they become more difficult to control. As they reach sexual maturity they will try and establish for themselves a position in the group in which they live. They do this as they would in the wild by threat displays and attacks. This can result in severe injuries to their owners. Primates can also carry diseases which can be lethal to humans.
Above: The new addition is settling in well
Most primates are highly social, and when deprived of sufficient interaction become bored, and because of their strength and intelligence they can do a large amount of damage to any area they are left in. The lack of interaction with other individuals can also cause psychological problems which can result in the animal indulging in self harming and other detrimental behaviors.
The aim of the rehabilitation unit at the Colobus Trust, which is the only primate rehabilitation unit in Kenya, is to ultimately return any animals back to the wild. To help achieve this interaction with people is limited as much as possible, with the hope that the animals will ultimately no longer associate people with providing for them.
The Sykes was given some vaccinations before being released into her new cage, where she appears to have settled in well. We hope that her stay here with us will be as short as possible and that we will be able to get her back out in to the wild as soon as we can. We will update you on her progress!
The Colobus Team