Tag Archives: Research

A Volunteers Experience with the Bridge Survey Research

Four weeks at Diani Beach is not enough. Originally I was only meant to be at the Colobus Trust for two weeks, but was very lucky to be able to extend my stay here. The time has absolutely flown by and we have definitely been kept busy with all the work to be done. Along with an introduction in the field to most of the regular Colobus Trust activities there have been many extra jobs for the staff and volunteers.

As a volunteer much of the last two weeks has been spent on the side of Diani Beach Road surveying the colobridges (Colobus monkey bridges). In pairs we are sent out for six hours to conduct a traffic survey and record the number of monkeys crossing the road using the bridges. It is valuable research for the Trust and so far seems to be proof that the colobridges are being used effectively. Although so far I have only seen the Sykes monkeys regularly using the bridges and not the colobus or vervet monkeys. Baboons on the other hand are regulars on the road and do not use the bridges, which causes a high risk of accidents. We have also learnt the hard way how to deal with baboons ourselves. After multiple lunches and snacks were stolen and feeling that we were being stalked and tormented by hungry baboons a little too close for comfort, we had to forgo taking packed lunches and deal with being hungry for a short while.

New Findings

Diani is the most magnificent place ever, I come from western Kenya where people there are so passionate about farming of crops. I am very sure that everyone understand what I mean when I talk about crop farming, not many trees are found here, no forests, no wild animals live here anymore. My main point here today is about Diani, the place I currently live, I have been here for thirteen years now. I have worked with monkeys in trying to fight for rights and help them live a better life but for the last few years I have had sightings that are interesting to see. Lately I have seen a new species of monkey that looks like half vervet and half syke monkeys, I mean from the head they look vervet but from the rear end they look Sykes.This is one thing that many people may not want to believe because Diani has always had only four known species of monkeys, namely, colobus , baboons , vervets and Sykes.


(Photograph taken by Yvonne A. de Jong & Thomas M. Butynski)

I have never heard of cross breed amongst monkeys before,but now it seems to me that the real problem of deforestation in Diani is phasing out other species of monkey who have found it hard to survive on a very limited patch of coral rag forest remaining in Diani. I am now officially inviting people to see this new species so that we confirm a fifth species of monkeys in Diani. It will be interesting to see the effects of deforestation in Diani because many more funny looking species of animals will come up due to serious destruction we are witnessing here.

John Abuor- Colobus Trust, Animal Welfare Unit


Colobus Trust’s report on Kaya Muhaka.

Camp Kenya along with Colobus trust completed a preliminary study of Kaya Muhaka (KM) from July 14-16. The following is a brief summary of what was found and recommendation for further research. The three days used with Camp Kenya volunteers and Colobus Trust staff were used as a preliminary study to decide whether or not further research would be necessary and which methods would best suit research in KM.

Two methods were tried during the three days, transects and casual watch. Transect method involves picking a starting point on one end of the forest and walking along a baring, in this case 90 degrees or East. Transects are then repeated every 100m. In the end you have a parallel transects running along the entire length of the forest. In the future distance sampling will be used with the data collected to give an estimated population size of a particular species, in this case the Angolan black and white colobus. Casual watch is done by gridding the entire forest and remaining stationary for an extended period of time. Groups set out into the forest to predetermined position. The groups then separate within the limits of the section, generally 50m sq. and sit quietly recording all observations.


During the three days of field work we completed six transects. Because there was no existing map we arbitrarily picked a point in the forest near the tree nursery. Without a GPS it was difficult to determine the exact distance walked but with pacing we estimate the length of transects to be around 1.8k. During these transects we spotted twelve individual Colobus in three troops. The majority of sightings were located on the East side of the forest where the percentage of canopy cover and height is much greater. Other species noted: One bell hinged tortoise, one squirrel species, one viper species and one troop of yellow baboons.

Two periods of casual watch were completed with two groups resulting in 4 hours and 30 minutes of total survey time. During this period nine individuals of Colobus in two troops had been spotted. A number of unidentified bird species had been observed as well as two bush pigs. Droppings from what was believed to be a suni antelope were also found.

On the final day two teams set out in different directions to gain an estimated size of the entire forest. Walking in two directions and counting paces we gauge the perimeter to be about 6-7k around and likely 2k at its widest depth from East to West.  It appears to be slightly rectangle in shape but without a GPS or more time it was not possible to be certain.  On this walk three more individuals Colobus had been spotted alone from a distance. It was not possible to confirm whether they were lone males or if their troops were nearby. In total 24 individuals and 5 troops had been spotted in 3 days.


Kaya Muhaka is a protected forest reserve located near Camp Kenya’s base in Muhaka, Kenya. Camp Kenya is in the process of planting a buffer zone around the Kaya in order to reduce the reliance on the natural resources from the forest and to increase protection.  In order to help gain support in conservation efforts it is necessary to know the importance if this forest to the wildlife and surrounding communities. KM is a very unique forest in that the forest bed is almost entirely sand measuring 0.5m or more in many places. This creates a number of interesting micro-habitats which could be of conservation value.

It is the Colobus Trusts opinion that more research is needed to fully understand the importance of this forest. From the impressive number of sighting we obtained in the three survey days we can assume that a large population of Colobus still lives in KM and that this is still an important habitat for this species. A full census should be completed to compare against the previous one done in 2005. It would also be useful to have a look at bird species. The spotted ground thrush is listed as critically endangered by the IUCN. If it was found to nest or migrate through KM, as it does in other forest nearby, this would add significant value to KM. The Zanji elephant shrew is not listed due to deficient data. It is unclear if KM is an appropriate habitat for this animal because of its sandy floor. Knowing this would add helpful information to understanding the habitats of this little understood species.

In order to complete a full survey of this forest we recommend using the transect method. It is much less time consuming and generally more accurate. Full maps will first need to be built to have a clear view of the area to be covered and to decide number of transects needed. While on transects all species sightings should be recorded. Time should also be allocated for bird surveys.

These are basic recommendations for the next steps in KM. Further research will be of both conservation and socio-economical value. It is up to Camp Kenya to decide where they would like to go from here. Colobus Trust was hired as research consultants and would be happy to continue this relationship. For any further quires please contact the Colobus Trust.


Adopt a Colobus

This week has seen the launch of the new Adopt a Colobus programme here at the Colobus Trust. This is an important programme, aimed to provide vital support for the conservation of the Angolan colobus monkey.


Cheo is looking out from his good-view tree spot


Here at the Trust, we are lucky to have a troop of colobus that frequent the Trust garden, choosing it as their territory. Staff and volunteers alike spend hours observing the movements and habits of this engaging family. The so named Luciana Troop is made up of 7 colobus, each with their own visual characteristics and personal traits. Cheo, a beautifully majestic colobus, is the dominant male and it is his job to look out for and protect his family. There are two adult females, Chunga and Cheka. Chunga is the dominant of the two, therefore also the troop leader. She has two children, Cheza the subordinate male of the group, and Chipua, one of the two juveniles. The other female is Cheka, mother to the sub-adult female Chuma, and the youngest member Chip.


 Chipua rests in a tree after playtime


It is fascinating to watch the family dynamics of this troop as they move through the Colobus Trust compound. True to colobus form, they spend most of their time eating, preferring the brightly coloured flowers of the flamboyant tree, as well as other choice buds and leaves. Much time is also devoted to play, however, and the two juveniles, Chip and Chipua, are full of energy and are forever getting up to mischief. It is not unknown for them to be seen cavorting with the infants of other monkey species in the area, namely the sykes. Watching such scenes unfold in our garden is a regular pass time here at the Trust!


Luciana’s Troop used to number 8 before one of Chunga’s offspring was electrocuted two months ago when it was just a baby. Such examples of human-primate conflict are sadly common in the Diani area. The Adopt a Colobus programme is in place so that people can donate to the Trust, helping us to maintain, and keep improving, the work that we do. By donating, people can enjoy the benefits of an enriched knowledge of these magnificent animals through regular updates from the Trust while at the same time, supporting their plight. For more information, please visit  http://www.colobustrust.org/support_us.html