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.
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.
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!
The Colobus Team