Tag Archives: volunteering


Hi, it’s Eva- a Wildlife Clubs of Kenya student on attachment in Colobus Trust. This my second week in Colobus Trust and I am really excited by the marvelous activities carried out. Some of the activities I have participated in are tree trimming and also last Wednesday we rescued a monkey. I am also assisting in marketing department whereby we advertise in hotels within Diani, then we bring tourists for an eco-tour.

I am really enjoying my stay in Colobus Trust. All can come participate in this primate conservation centre for a better tomorrow.


Marketing Volunteer

Veterinary clinic takes a turn

Foremost we would like to kindly thank you for the warm welcoming we have received from all of you. We (Tom and Rona) are off to a busy start and have many things planned for the Colobus Trust, but one step at a time;

We had an interesting week here at the veterinary clinic many cases came in, some ending happily and some sad. Our positive story happened on Tuesday when our field assistant Peter found a young Sykes monkey on the ground exhibiting neurological symptoms (tremors and convulsions). After admitting and examining it we suspected he had been poisoned by a likely Organophosphate or Pyrethroid substance.


We managed to administer the proper Antidote and treat him, and by the next morning he had been well and ready for release. Poisoning such as this can happen when uncontrolled insecticide treatment is being given to crops and fields. It may also be a deliberate action against monkeys perceived as pests. We must remember they have a right to exist here just as we do (even slightly more) and we must keep that in mind when tending to our own activities. That night we also received a Bushbaby, which was sadly attacked by dogs and dead on arrival. We buried him in our compound. Another issue of human-wildlife conflict is the domestic animals we introduce to this habitat. Although Bushbabies are largely arboreal they do sometimes descend to the ground to forage and this noise may attract dogs to the area, as they are quite slow on the ground and are not so well equipped for self defense these cases may happen. The next morning we sent out a team to one of the hotels in Diani which informed us there was a sick Sykes monkey about their premises with a swelling of the lower jaw. After capturing and diagnosing him, we sadly reached the conclusion that he suffered from a malignant (cancerous) growth of the mandible (lower jaw). Despite his condition he seemed to eat and drink and was not neglected by his fellow troop members. It appeared he has had this condition since he was an infant, an estimate of about one or two years. We gave him some local treatment and then we were left to make an ethical decision; Would we release him back to the wild, as there was nothing medical that could be done for him (practically and financially) or would we euthanize him? We had so much respect for this little guy surviving this long that we didn’t feel it was our decision as to when and how he should pass. So after making sure that he was indeed eating and was not in any pain, we decided to get him back to his troop and let him die naturally as his condition would not pose a threat to any other monkeys or humans. We wish him well.

Another thing we are trying to do is get our veterinary clinic better equipped as we are missing some vital medical supplies and drugs. As the only first response center for wildlife in the coastal area it is vital that we do not lose any of our patients due to lack of resources, so any donations on your behalf would be very much appreciated and would get the clinic up and running. We mostly need very basic supplies and even small donations would help us greatly. With your help and our efforts we can really make a difference and do our best to protect Diani’s habitat and wildlife population.

Rona and Tom

Farewells and welcomings

The wind of change is blowing through The Colobus Trust. Much is happening here at the moment; sadly we have had a goodbye party here, dedicated to our now former assistant manager, Gwili Gibbon. After 1,5 years at the Colobus Trust he is now leaving to continue his career with Kenyan wildlife work in Chyulu Hills, so all of the Trust-members have now taken farewell of him. He will always be remembered and is welcomed back whenever he feels to visit the Colobus Cottage again. The goodbye barbeque was very nice though – we enjoyed grilled goat and Anna’s and Filip’s first home-made chapatis together with some Tusker beer. The staff, volunteers and board members of The Colobus Trust were present, and this also turned out to be a good opportunity to introduce two new volunteers that are taking over after Gwili – Rona and Tom, a veterinary and a photographer from Israel. We are very happy to have the chance to welcome these two enthusiastic and competent persons since the two of us (Anna and Filip) are leaving for some traveling in Kenya and Tanzania. However, we will be back for work at the Colobus again in the beginning of April.

Baby Vervet Monkey hand in human hand

Then we will also carry through a project that we have just initiated, which is a sign campaign where our aim is to put up warning signs on all the hotel yards around Diani, as a part of our Pest Management Program. Monkeys stealing food from tourists is an increasing problem both for the hotel guests and the hotel managements, and is a direct consequence of tourists feeding them, unaware of this unwished chain reaction. To inform about this and get the necessary hotel permissions, all the hotel managers in Diani have been invited to a short briefing that will take place at The Colobus Trust in April. We are trying to cope financially with this very important project, but our budget is tight and any donation that could contribute to the Sign Campaign would be deeply appreciated.

Anna Sandahl and Filip Celander, Colobologists

Working with Camps International

So far in 2009 The Colobus Trust has hosted two groups of Camps International students. This is just one example of how we work together with, and host, other organisations to facilitate and promote the vast majority of our work.

21 students aged 17-20 joined us at our base for two blocks of five days. Both programs started with an in-house education day during which students. This consisted of a morning of informative lectures focusing on introducing the students to Colobus Monkeys, Colobus Monkey conservation, and a general lecture on safety in the field. They were also told what to expect in the forest. This was followed by an afternoon walking in the forest where they learnt about the history of the local Digo people and their Kaya Forests as well as seeing firsthand the threats posed to the future of Diani Forest.

Students prepare piping at the Colobus Trust

The remaining part of the week was spent working on practical conservation activities. Many of which would not have been possible for us without the increased number of workers we had. Days were spent desnaring, undertaking beach cleanups, caring for and feeding our ex-pet Vervet monkeys, preparing insulation material (above) and much more. Many of our volunteers joined in to help with this.

The extra hands provided by the students allowed us to prepare the insulation material in record time and both programs facilitated the insulation of a hotspot and we covered over a kilometer of cable! Below is a picture of the insulation material being put into place on the Zawama hotspot.

Insulating the powerlines

It is thanks to organisations like Camps International, who work alongside and support us, as well as providing core funding, that we are able to carry on much of our work. We look forward to working together again in the future!

The Colobus Team

Baby Vervet’s Long Lost Brother

As two of our volunteers just left to continue their journey (former Trust-bloggers Tracey Stenson and Tim Jukes), another baby vervet monkey just came in. This baby is even smaller than the first one; approximately 2 weeks old and still in constant need of a surrogate mother holding him tight. He was found left alone just outside the bush, shocked and depressed, somehow abandoned by his mother way too early. After having introduced him successfully to our first baby vervet (about 1,5 months old), he moved into the same cage, and the two of them became friends. They cuddled, groomed each other, and spent the night sleeping in each other’s arms. The smallest baby vervet still has some problems being fed, since he hasn’t learned yet how to suck but to bite and scratch quite hard, but he is now hand-reared every 3 hours together with the other baby vervet, something that has turned out to be a good solution.


The bigger baby Vervet, though, shows good indications of growing independent. Partly, he has started chewing solid food, e.g. watermelon and banana instead of infant milk formula, and if he doesn’t like something you do to him, he truly shows that his teeth are developing. His world is getting bigger and bigger too: yesterday his exploring curiosity took him to new heights, as he climbed halfway up a big Neem tree. Usually, the Vervet mother pinches the baby when it climbs too far away from her, but as we couldn’t reach our baby Vervet he just kept on climbing, until he realized he wanted to get down again, which apparently wasn’t as easy as climbing up… We got him down by holding a long branch (with a piece of banana on top if it) so close to him that he could grab it. He even proved his bravery by mocking with Nala – the cat of the house, twice his size – a situation that resulted in Nala being chased away, surrendering.

However, it is a lot to do for the two volunteers that are left. The two babies need constant looking after and to be carried around and held, and at the same time there are regular tasks, like giving eco-tours for the tourists, keep on de-snaring and other field projects. We strongly feel the need of more volunteers joining us as currently there is a lot to do at the Trust. Fortunately, a couple living here in Diani just gave the information that they are going to adopt the two baby Vervets and build a rehabilitation cage in their garden for them.

Anna Sandahl, Filip Celander, Colobologists

A Tale of Two Sykes

17:15 Monday 12th January 2009: Gwili’s land rover skids to a halt at the entrance to Colobus Cottage, he jumps out and shouts that he needs help. Gwili had just found an adult female Sykes monkey lying in the middle of the road on his way home. It lay there on the passenger seat, breathing shallowly and unable to move. This was clearly another road traffic accident (RTA); probably someone rushing home from work, ignoring the 50kph speed limit, hitting the monkey then driving off – a regular occurrence here in Diani.

Injured Female Sykes in Gwili’s Land Rover

We shifted her to the clinic and called the local vet to take a look. The vet treated her for shock, gave her a variety of booster injections and hooked her up to a drip. Though there were no visible external injuries or signs of fracture, the monkey was clearly in a bad way. There was little response in any limb, her eyes were open but stared blankly into space and her heartbeat was weak and erratic. We feared internal injuries and a possible blood clot in the brain. We made her as comfortable as possible and hoped for improvement in the morning.

We kept treating her and she hung on for 48hrs before finally passing away during the night of 14th Jan. One tough little monkey. We buried her in the garden the next day. Tracey and I have been working at the Colobus trust for a mere two weeks. Already we have seen 2 baboons (1 RTA, 1 electrocution), 4 Colobus (3 electrocutions, 1 unknown) and 3 Sykes monkeys (RTAs) die in Diani. I’ll let you do the maths on annual statistics. It seems there’s a war going on here: Man vs. Monkey; Development vs. Conservation; Money vs. Environmental Care.

Female Sykes in Grave08:00 Thursday 15th January 2009: On her way to work, Mary had seen a car hit another monkey and phoned the Colobus Trust for assistance. Again, it was a young female Sykes monkey which was lying unconscious in the road. We rushed to the scene but in the 5 minutes it took us to arrive, the monkey had regained consciousness and climbed up a tree. Her legs looked damaged and she couldn’t climb properly. Under close surveillance by the rest of her troop, who were very distressed and calling loudly, Peter climbed up the tree after the monkey and caught it. We brought her back to the centre and called a vet who treated her. She was kept under observation overnight.

Sykes calling to near by troop            Rescue attempt or just curious?

Fortunately her condition improved immediately after treatment. Even another troop of Sykes (local to the Colobus Trust) heard her and broke into the quarantine cages to investigate! Perhaps they were planning a rescue operation. The next morning we drove back to find her original troop and successfully released her back into the wild. Clearly she had made a 100% recovery from the speed she shot out of the cage. I just hope that we don’t see her in the vet centre again.

Arrival at the release site

One Happy Sykes leaping back to it’s troop

These are just two typical stories that occur every week here at the Colobus Trust. Though not all animals make it, it is our duty to help every animal that comes in. All animals are treated with the available resources, even if the outlook doesn’t look good. Medication and vet bills cost a lot of money and any contribution will really help our cause.
The other way you can help is to become a volunteer: even if you only have a week or two to spare you would be helping with a number of on-going projects and making a real difference to the Trust.

Tim Jukes, Colobologist