The main aim of the animal welfare program is to mitigate and lessen the negative impact that humans have on Diani’s primates. These negative impacts include injuries and deaths from road traffic accidents (usually hit and run), electrocutions, poisoning, dog bites and snares. The animal welfare team strives to respond to all cases within twenty minutes of their being reported. Most of the time we manage.
Colobus Conservation responds to about 150 emergency animal welfare cases annually.
We operate a 24 hour primate emergency rescue service. If an animal is injured in any way, we assess the situation and follow up to ensure that the treatment incurs the least stress and is appropriate for the situation. For example, if a monkey has an injury that with our experience looks like it will heal on its own, we leave it in the wild. Animals have an amazing ability to heal especially eating a wild diet and living within its own troop.
Example of a Typical Rescue
We receive a call that a person has spotted a monkey with a wire snare around its waist. We get the details of the exact location and the direction the monkeys seem to be heading as well as the name and contact details of the informant.
We quickly put together a team of trained staff and our resident vet and the rescue equipment: portable cage, sheet, towel, tough gloves, sisal twine, fruit and maize bait, and the darting kit comprising of a blow pipe (and sometimes dart gun), darts and tranquilizer. They jump into the car and off the siren goes. Ok, so it’s a Ford Ranger therefore there’s no siren, but…
The team gets to the site and begins the search for the troop in which the snare victim was seen. Once the troop is sighted, and the snare victim is confirmed to be present, an assessment is conducted to determine the severity of the wound and if capture and treatment is required. If the monkey requires capturing and treatment, the team selects the method – usually either darting or trapping. If trapping is considered the best option, a suitable location to set up the trap is found. Into the back of the trap goes some fruits and maize. More maize is scattered around the front of the cage. All this time the monkeys are watching the food being distributed.
Sisal twine is tied to the trap door which holds the door securely up. The wait begins. The first to get the food is the dominant male and other older more dominant individuals, followed by the younger and less dominant ones. The monkey with the snare is usually the last to join the party as it is much more cautious (understandably so as it usually has been severely weakened from living with the snare) than the others. The other monkeys go in and out of the cage to get the food and thus the snared one perceives the cage as safe. Once the snare victim goes in to get the food (the others would likely be gone by now), the team members pulls the twine quickly releasing the pin which shuts the trap door and secures the monkey inside.
The monkey is taken to our rescue and rehabilitation centre where we have a veterinary clinic. Our veterinarian assesses the monkey's condition and prepares it for surgery. This involves sedating the individual, removing the snare, and cleaning and stitching the wound. Antibiotic and anti-inflammatory injections are given. Snare victims can normally be released back to their troop the same day, as long as the wound is not too severe and they have recovered from the sedation well.
Removing snares is very important as without veterinary treatment, the condition of snare victims slowly deteriorates, often causing a slow and painful death.