Welcome to the Marine Mammal and wildlife Research and Community Development Expedition blog where you can keep up to date with all the happenings and information from Kenya

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Latest News On Shimoni Forest's Colobus

Since the rains the thick canopy and vegetation has literally sprung into life since and we 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 strong winds reduce the chances of hearing the primates – a vital tool in the search!

The team headed out optimistic nonetheless, and made our way to the furthest transect away; transect 6. We planned to conduct the survey on the positive sections, which total up to just over 1.5 kilometres. The previous day we had gone up the same transect conducting vegetation and canopy surveys, so we had already re-cut and re-marked it. So the transect was in excellent condition and going was easy.

Our fears of missing 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 team 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 absolutely amazing to see was the number of young colobus in the groups. We saw two very young infants who still had all white pelts and very cute pink faces, two juveniles that had developed grey pelts, and 3 subadults. Subadults 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 continued reliance on their mother.

The rainy season is the peak birth time for colobus, so it should be expected to see young ones, but it never takes the excitement out of actually seeing them in the field. We were very happy with our sightings, but unfortunately were unable to get accurate group counts or demographics for some of the groups simply because of the state of the canopy and vegetation. It was a wonderful day anyway, and none of us can wait to get out to the other transects to see what we can see!