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Monday, July 6, 2009

Return To Transect 6!

This week our research teams were back in Shimoni forest after a few weeks break. We were aware of the intensely thick canopy and vegetation that has literally sprung into life since the onset of the rainy season, and were concerned about how this was going to affect our primate community surveys. The density of the vegetation makes spotting primates significantly more challenging than in the dry season, and the very strong winds that are present at the moment reduce the chances of hearing the primates; a vital tool in the search! The rains and winds also regularly bring down trees in the shallow soils of the coral rag forest which can make it near impossible to find let alone follow our transects!

We headed out optimistic nonetheless, and made our way to the furthest transect away; transect 6. The last time we had been back to re-survey transect 6 we had been confronted by swathes of destruction from fire and on-going logging and charcoal burning.

Our fears of not seeing the primates melted away steadily throughout the day however, after we got sighting after sighting of the Angolan black and white colobus monkey, and several good sightings of sykes monkeys.

The day ended up with seven colobus sightings and two sykes sightings. The average group size of the colobus seen on that day was just over 4, with the largest group including seven individuals. What was particularly exciting to see was the number of young colobus in the groups; two very young infants who still had all white pelts and very cute pink faces, two juveniles that had developed grey pelts, and 3 sub-adults. Sub-adults are often hard to distinguish accurately as they have developed their adult colouration, but by watching their behaviour and interaction with adult females in the group it is possible to observe their on-going attachment to their mothers.

The rainy season is the peak birth time for colobus, so it should be expected to see young ones, but it was a huge sense of relief that the disturbance we were confronted with the last time we were working in this part of the forest has not displaced the troops of colobus.