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

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Travelling with monkeys

Today we took part in a travel pattern survey which involves following a habituated group of Angola Black- and-white Colobus. The survey data will give us an indication on home-range and habitat use. One of the initial goals is to identify and characterize movement of the tight-knit Colobus groups trough the forest patches. We are attempting to identify primary feeding, resting and sleeping trees or areas, by calculating percentages of time spent on that activity per location. After identifying those primary activity sites, we can hopefully gain some insight in the movement to and from these locations, and the relation of factors like habitat quality, food availability and seasonality to these patterns.

For the survey we observed the habituated group during their feeding period for two hours. An observer picked a focal individual and recorded that specific individuals behavior as a scan sample every two minutes. In addition, another observer tracks the movement of the focal individual, maps and tags the trees for later reference and identification.
Female Colobus with her young.

Obviously most of this survey requires quite some patience, recording very common activities such as sleeping, resting, foraging or feeding continuously. Today however, the group decided to put on a bit of a show. After two hours we suddenly witnessed some typical primate arousal followed by two instances of actual mating, something that is not very frequently seen in Colobus. Shortly afterward, while sitting directly above us, four of the Colobus decided to urinate at the same time so there was a bit of a shower!

Text: Lucy Stone-Donaldson (Forest programme staff)