Friday, 25 July 2014

Football, Beards & Gorillas – 5 months in Kenya

I have packed so much into my time here in Kenya and this month was no different; if I was to give it a name it would be the month of my beard (it grew to new lengths).

Following a group of colobus monkeys

I finally learnt how to play backgammon and there is something very relaxing about disconnecting from computer screens. I also witnessed a very large Sykes vs Vervets standoff with the colobus watching from the trees above; never seen so many monkeys in such a small space. Had a sundowner (drinks watching the sunset) at Congo River and was tested on my driving skills of the Colobus Conservation truck.

The start of a much larger monkey standoff

Watching the sun go down at Congo River

Loading material to insulate the power lines


However, the highlight of this month without doubt was living out a boyhood dream of seeing the mountain gorillas in Bwindi, Uganda. It lived up to everything I imagined it would be; and more. Uganda is a beautiful country, with amazing wildlife, people and landscapes and I urge you to visit. You can read about my experience in more detail her Part 1 and here Part 2.

Sunrise over Lake Victoria

13 month old gorilla baby

Silverback of the Bitukura gorilla group

Not long after returning it was the 2014 Brazil World Cup Final, and I watched it with a number of different nationalities including Germans. As a neutral I was hoping for exciting penalties and then Germany had to go a ruin everything by scoring in the very last minute of extra time; I was routing for Argentina. I wrote an article on vegan food in Kenya for Fresh Vegan magazine (out in August), a lot of the local dishes are already vegan or easy to convert. As the managers were away I got the chance to be on call, which meant having the colobus hotline and driving responsibilities. Of course these two days I was on call were not quiet. We had an injured Sykes monkey we couldn't catch, even after crawling through a very dense forest area. Then the next day we had a Sykes hit by a car and a young colobus monkey with an old infected wound to its back; currently both being treated at our center.

Omari showing me how to make a few dishes

Young colobus that was rescued, I want to name him Zeus because of his side white hair

Sometimes we require the use of a blow dart to safely catch monkeys that are injured and need treatment. We had a little competition to hone our skills and it is fair to say that I did not win, in fact if there is an injured monkey it would be best if someone else took the shot; don’t breath in when you have the blow dart tube in your mouth. Unfortunately, the attitudes towards the monkeys by the locals are sometimes not that great. For example, a Sykes monkey stole some sugar and the man told me that he will kill a few of them potentially through poisoning. I took this as an opportunity to improve things and bought him more sugar and tried to explain that they are opportunistic and that you must lock food away; also about the importance of monkeys in protecting the forest, let’s just hope that worked.

Blow dart practice, don't breath in

So as you can see it was another busy and exciting month here in Africa living with monkeys. I cannot believe I now only have one month left, the time has gone so fast and I have a lot of fantastic memories.

Here are some photos from the month that I wanted to share, enjoy!

A baboon chasing insects in the sun

Mum grooming her child

Yawning Vervet, they may be small but those teeth!

A young Vervet quickly stuffed his cheek pouches before an adult came along

Little Elwood of colobus group 1 is getting so big

You can see all my photos of my time in Kenya on my Flickr page here -http://bit.ly/1dpb3gd

Or on my facebook page here - www.facebook.com/diaryofaprimatologist

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