Tag Archives: volunteering

My First Day

Kelly Martin arrived on March 1st and is here for six months as Betsy primary day carer. Read below for her first impressions of the Colobus Trust.

On my arrival I was welcomed firstly by the scorching heat and second by my very friendly taxi driver. The drive to Diani Beach took just under hour and half but went pleasantly fast. When I finally got to the Trust I was welcomed by Andrea the manager who had a young Colobus attached to her side called Betsy, who I will be fortunate enough to be working with over the coming 6 months.

I was shown to my room; it is a nice size with a maximum of 4 to a room and a shared bathroom. I was surprised by the available wardrobe space and the pleasant communal areas. I went on a tour shortly after, while the Trust is smaller than I had expected it is more than big enough for the animals it houses. The site is also frequent visited by wild baboons, Sykes monkeys and the black and white Angolan colobus by day and later at night bushbabies.

After I was shown all the work and living quarters and was introduced to some of the staff, I was shown the Beach, a minute walk from the volunteer house. It is breath taking with beautiful white sands and blue seas. I will enjoy spending my days off here as well as exploring the area. The whole time Betsy was with us sometimes running off to a new noise or catching something in her eye line to play with.

Later that day at dinner I was able to meet the other volunteers. The food was great and I was pleased to see there is a good variety of both traditional Kenyan and western food. I went to bed early to catch up on much needed sleep, from what I have seen today I think I will enjoy it here!

Rescue, rehabilitation and release

Sarah, one of our Eco-volunteers, wrote this blog about the successful treatment and release of an electrocuted Colobus monkey:

The rescue, rehabilitation and release of monkeys are some of the main goals governing the Colobus Trust.  A few days ago, I had the privilege of witnessing the release of an adult colobus that the Trust rescued after it had been electrocuted.  Electrocution is a big threat to the monkey population in Diani, because monkeys are not aware that wires carry electric current and walk on high voltage lines. Electrocuted monkeys can die immediately or, in an effort to soothe the pain, bite their wounds and an infection ends up killing them.

A Colobus doesn't survive its encounter with the wires

A Colobus doesn't survive its encounter with the wires

On Friday afternoon, someone called saying a Colobus had been electrocuted. We went to investigate and determined the Colobus needed medical attention. When examining his injuries we discovered that minor burns covered his hind legs and he had small, but severe, burns on his two front legs. We cleaned the wounds and the Colobus received anti-biotic and anti-inflammatory medicine before going into a large cage for monitoring.

By Monday the Colobus was ready to be released.  The monkey was darted in the early morning to get him in the cage and by afternoon was fully awake and alert.  Driving in the truck the monkey was unable to calm itself and destroyed various rags and leaves that were initially placed it its cage to keep it relaxed.  Although the monkey’s state may sound upsetting, it shows he had certainly regained his strength. His reaction also indicates that he never became comfortable around humans, thereby maintaining his healthy fear of people.  This fear is necessary for the Colobus and other monkeys’ survival as humans are the primary cause of the declining monkey population in Diani.

John and Peter prepare to release the Colobus

John and Peter prepare to release the Colobus

The Colobus was released where it had been captured.  John, the Animal welfare officer, opened the cage door and stood back.  The newly freed monkey ran out at full speed and immediately leapt into the nearest tree.  He looked much happier than he had in days and appeared at ease in his familiar surroundings.  We observed the monkey in its natural habitat for a few minutes before leaving. The Colobus did not immediately search for his troop but because we returned him to the troop’s home range, when he looked for them the Colobus would quickly rejoin his family. Watching the Colobus return to its natural habitat was truly inspirational and demonstrated the immense benefits for monkeys when living in their natural environments and territories.

Sarah

Eco-volunteer

The Colobus content back in his natural habitat

The Colobus content back in his natural habitat

As some readers may be aware, Wildlifedirect are no longer going to be able to take donations through the website. Therefore if you’ve been thinking about donating something small or large to help the Colobus Trust, now is the time to do it! The function to donate on the website will close on the 30th March but we will still be blogging to let you know how we are getting on.

Thanks for your support and interest!
Cara

Rehabilitation at the Colobus Trust

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!

Kristy Bailey

Eco-volunteer

Electrocutions in Diani, Kenya

Dear Readers: Some pictures in this blog you may find distressing.

We are Joyce and Angelique and we are volunteers at the Colobus Trust. In Holland we both work as nurses and here we’ve been helping John in the vet clinic. Recently we’ve been really shocked by seeing an electrocuted bush baby and an electrocuted colobus.

Last week someone brought a bush baby to us that had been electrocuted. Both his legs and feet and one hand were affected. One of his lower-legs had gone completely, the other was badly maimed and on his hand only the bones remained. Due to the fact that the bush baby didn’t have any feeling in his arms or legs he started eating himself in his cage. The only thing we could do is to put him out of his misery because he was suffering too much. It was terrible to see the bush baby electrocuted and in pain like that.

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Above: The Bush Baby with his injuries

Today we got a phone call on the Colobus Trust hotline. We were told that there was a Colobus which had fallen down into a room of a derelict hotel. The person who called told us that the Colobus’ leg was broken. We responded to this call and went to the location and when we arrived we saw the Colobus was sitting on a balcony. We tried to capture him but yet he was still strong and tried to get away. Staff members John and Peter captured the colobus with a net. At that moment we saw his injuries were very serious. Both his legs and his arm were broken. It was discovered that he fell down from an electric wire after being electrocuted. His feet and his hand were still there but one of his legs was only hanging by a bit of skin. It was really horrible to see how the Colobus was suffering.

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Above: The Colobus in the clinic

Below: The injuries caused by electrocution and the subsequent fall

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We put him in a cage and brought him to the surgery. The vet gave him an injection directly straight into his heart. The Colobus died- unfortunately we couldn’t save him. He would never be able to survive in nature without his feet and his hand.

It has really been a sad week to see these horrible things happening. There are huge lengths of electricity wires here everywhere and primates don’t know they can’t touch them. Obviously the human population need the wires but many animals die because of this. The trust adapts tubing for insulation which goes around the wires so monkeys can pass without getting electrocuted. The trust has already done some good work on the wires but we still need funding to get more wires insulated to save more monkeys.

Help us helping and donate to the Colobus Trust.

Thank you,

Joyce and Angelique

Eco-volunteers

Education at the Colobus Trust

A major part of what the Colobus Trust does is raise awareness through our educational program. On average 1,200   local school children from 33 different schools will visit the trust every year. In just the last two weeks alone, six school groups have visited the Colobus Trust. The program aims to teach the students of all ages about the various problems facing the wildlife in Diani (with particular focus on the monkeys) and what we do to reduce these problems or their effects. The information session is followed by an eco-tour that takes them round the rehabilitation cages, the nature trail and the tree nursery. The excursion is rounded off by some beach games by the sea.

It’s great to have the opportunity to encourage children to get enthusiastic about what we do here. Hopefully by educating them about the environment they will learn to interact with it in a more thoughtful manner and encourage the community at large to help conserve Diani and its furry inhabitants.

The Colobus Team

Jill’s time at the Trust

After four weeks at the Colobus Trust, it’s almost time for me to fly home to another UK winter. I’ve had a fantastic time here and have been encouraged by the dedication and passion of the team for the colobus monkey and the local ecology as a whole.

During my time here I have enjoyed building colobus bridges, giving eco-tours to tourists and local children, undertaking colobus checks in the local forest and completing the 2009 Monkey Census in Diani and Gongoni forests.

One of the most eye opening experiences has been undertaking de-snaring searches. During one visit we found 12 snares along a 2km transect! It is worrying to think that without the efforts of the trust each of those snares could have caught or injured an animal.

Kenya is a magical place and each day brings new experiences. Like so many before me, I think I might be hooked!

Jill,

Eco-volunteer

Hannah’s Diary…

A section from the diary of an Eco-volunteer, Hannah:

Today was the first normal day back at the trust after the census. In the morning I fed the monkeys, cleaned the veterinary office, and potted tree saplings. It was a pretty low key day all around until we got a welfare call about a Colobus who had been hit by a car. Upon arrival, we found out that it was a baboon. Apparently it had been struck by a car and had then been dragged off the road by other members of its baboon troop. It was hurt really badly. The force of the car had hit the baboon so hard that it had ripped the skin on its back. The monkey was lying in the grass on the side of the road whimpering and all the other baboons were watching. A huge baboon came out grunting and making barking noises at us- it seemed really angry that we were taking the injured baboon away.

When we arrived back at the trust we brought the baboon to the vet clinic and examined it. It could only stand itself up on its front legs. The baboon was sedated to relax it so we could examine his back. He had shattered his spine and could not move the lower half of his body. I was really upset when I found out that spinal fractures require that the animal be euthanized. He was lying on the table breathing and it made me really upset that we could not save him. I stood there and watched as he was euthanized and slowly stopped breathing. After he had been given the shot it was obvious to me that he had internal bleeding and euthanizing him was probably the best decision.

I love animals and it was heartbreaking to watch one die right in front of me. I think the Trust handled it really well but unfortunately, I know that probably won’t be the last dead monkey I see before I leave here.

Thanks for reading,

Hannah

Help to stop the electrocutions!

Last weekend some people from the Ocean Village Club came to the trust with a package which we later found out was a dead Colobus monkey. They told us the monkey had been electrocuted in their compound. A fight involving Colobus monkeys had occurred and in the process of the brawl one of them accidentally grasped on to an uninsulated electric wire and sadly died on the spot.

This is yet another perfect example of why we need to insulate the power lines in the Diani area. Here at the trust we do the best we can to allocate enough funds for wire insulation but we are not able to do it alone. As you all know we are a non-profit making organisation which means the funds we get are limited. Together, however, we can help save and conserve the endangered black and white Angolan Colobus monkey- whomever you are, wherever you are, you can make a difference by donating towards the purchase of tubes to help insulate the electricity wires and it’s only $2.50 for 4 metres of tube. Please donate now if you can!

Mavinya,

Thank you.

In the jungle, the mighty jungle…

On Wednesday afternoon staff and volunteers from the Colobus Trust completed a 3-day census of Colobus monkeys in the Gongoni Forest Reserve. WWF had given us a small amount of funding to conduct the census, which would use the Colobus monkey as an indicator of the quality of the forest. We had rangers from the Kenya Forest Service with us who were armed with rifles to protect us from buffalo, and locals with pangas (machetes) to help us navigate through the forest.

We were divided into three groups and given GPSs with a coordinate which we would attempt to follow down to the other edge of the forest in a straight line. The first day was extremely dense and thick because it was all secondary growth forest. Everyone battled their way through the undergrowth, sometimes crawling, and it took one group 2 hours to cover 1 km.  Some Colobus were seen but everyone was hoping for more!

The second day of the census was definitely not what we were expecting it to be. Immediately off the bat poaching camps and snares were found. The Gongoni Forest has become really thin due to illegal cutting, mostly by local poachers who chop down large trees and sell the wood for house-building or furniture-making. Whilst making their way through the woods, one of our teams came across a group of poachers who were in the middle of cutting up trees. The forest ranger with them told the team to be quiet and to get down. They waited whilst the ranger snuck up on the poachers and then shouted at them to put their hands above their head and get on the ground. One man escaped but the other was caught. The ranger marched him out off the forest along with the census team and they met up with another census team at the other end of the transect. Both of the rangers wanted to be the ones to bring the poacher in which meant that our census activities for the day came to an abrupt end. Both teams walked with the guards and the poacher to a meeting point where a police truck was going to come and pick them up. On the way, the guards spotted another poacher with an even larger bundle of wood. They sprinted after him and one of them fired a blank to scare the poacher. Before everyone knew it there were two poachers handcuffed and waiting under a tree to be picked up.

On the third day, some transects had to be modified in order to complete the census on time due to the fact that the poachers on the day before had set us back. Two teams completed two 3.5 km transects but one of these teams saw no monkeys at all! Far too many poaching camps and garages (where poachers chop the wood) were discovered. It was sad to realize how hard the Kenya Forest Service’s job is and how ineffective some methods may be at preventing poaching.

It was a relief for most to finish their last transects and escape the heat and humidity of the woods. Those days spent in the forest were difficult work! Making the way through lots of heavy bush, vines and thorny branches did not make travel very easy. Despite it all, the volunteers are happy that they had the experience but are thrilled to get back to normal days at the trust!

We’ll give you the results of our census as soon as we can!

Thanks for reading,

Hannah Follender

Eco-volunteer

And The Colobus Team

Bush Baby Bahati

Dear Readers,

We apologise for the lack of updates recently from the Trust! We’ve had a lot going on which we’ll update you all on in the next few days.

Regular visitors to our blog will know that we rescued a Bush Baby which we named Bahati. He was a favourite with the visiting school children as well as all the volunteers at the trust – even when we had to wake up every 3 hours to feed him! We taught him to jump over short distances and Marvo was building up to the ‘double jump’! Bahati was being fed on a diet of fruit and milk, but efforts to move him onto a diet of insects failed.

Last Monday he became a little weak but seemed to be improving and his appetite returned to normal. He was back to his noisy, active self on Tuesday. However when we woke him for one of his feeds on Wednesday afternoon he was very drowsy and would not feed. His condition did not improve and sadly he passed away later that day. As you all may know raising an infant without tender maternal care is very difficult and we did the best we could in order to see Bahati gradually become a healthy grown up Bush Baby but it was not meant to be.

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Above: Our beloved Bahati with Marvo

He really was part of the family and his death has affected us all very strongly. We all miss him very much.

Thanks for reading and look out for our next update coming soon…

The Colobus Team.