The entire compound is full of tents and very busy people. Their tents are blue, green, and red, but their overland truck is yellow and always clean. They’re called Great Primate Handshake (GPH) and they’re here to help with our projects and share some knowledge – about the internet, digital media, film-making and teaching techniques. Monday morning one of the Colobus Trust directors, Luciana, was here as usual to greet her Colobus Trust ‘family’, but this morning she had more news than the daily greetings. There was a new member in our troop for adopters. On Sunday, a white infant Colobus was born! We named the new baby GPH in honour of the visiting volunteer group. I would like to inform those interested in adopting a cute new infant, to take this opportunity. Thanks to GPH group for choosing the Colobus Trust and we would like to welcome the young GPH into the family. It’s my hope that other groups will be interested in the Colobus Trust, particularly our camping site and am looking forward for new adopters for the new member. Remember you can adopt through our website as well. So let’s say ‘long life’ to little GPH!
This week our education day was a little different with the involvement of GPH. Another Tuesday and most of the people around are busy preparing for the school workshop. But today we have more participants than usual. There are cameras at every corner of the Colobus Trust premises. The kids moved in through the cameras and immediately loved it. One of the Great Primate Handshake members showed an entertaining cartoon they had made on problems affecting Colobus and other monkeys in the area. The kids then divided in two groups, one were ‘animals’ and one were ‘humans’ and had a hot debate about how they use trees. Then it was off to the beach, where we managed to collect more than ten kilograms of sandals in less than half an hour – all this was waiting to kill our marine life at some point. This was on our waste management topic. Thanks to Magutu Primary for the dedicated beach clean up. The sandals will be used be local artists to make things – like the whale shark (shujaa) made from flip-flops which stands in Haller Park in Mombasa Most of the kids loved the beach football, and they were all covered in sand by the end of it. My request to you is, please wherever you are, avoid littering the beach and if possible pick up any rubbish while you are there, walking or jogging. Once again thanks for supporting our education programme through our blog.
Hamisi – Education, Marketing and Communication.
As today is Monday, we went for the typical Monday-event, which is “colobridging” and means more or less to do maintenance work on the colobridges. The colobridges are put up over the Diani Road in “monkey hot-spots” – areas with the most frequent number of monkeys being overrun by cars. As monkeys have permanent passages, bridges that they can use for crossing the road are an efficient way of reducing road kills. The road traffic accidents are the most common accidents reported to our animal welfare hotline, and means a horrible suffering since it often causes fatal internal bleedings instead of instant death.
The maintenance work is very important as there are many bridges, and the smaller features rust or fall off if the bridge is not looked after. The colobridging is not rocket-science, but does certainly require some skills in tree-climbing and is certainly not for those with fear of heights. A team of staff and volunteers arrive to a bridge that needs maintenance, equipped with ladders, pliers, ropes and extra gear, such as new chains or tubes. Then we start the exciting expedition into the high canopies of Diani, and yes – we REALLY climb high up! Usually the team-spirit is good and we encourage each other to reach higher and pull harder. The bridge is tightened, and rusty screws are exchanged to make this the red carpet for our endangered friends, more natural and less lethal than the busy main road downstairs.
We have seen great statistics since the colobridge-programme was initiated. The number of road traffic accidents killing monkeys has decreased with 50% since it was first launched in 1996! However, it costs to keep these bridges up and running. Even today, we had to take one of them down because its supporting pieces were too old and could fall down to the road and cause accidents. Also, we still need more bridges since they only cover a fraction of the road, leaving several “monkey hotspots” exposed to the busy traffic. People can sponsor a new bridge either by donating online or by visiting our website, http://www.colobustrust.org/support_us.html, which includes having a bridge named according to your choice. This also makes a good gift!
Anna Sandahl & Filip Celander, Colobologists
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.
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.
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