There are some conservation projects that really make you feel good. This month we’d like to congratulate and celebrate the Colobus Trust success in Diani Kenya where hundreds of monkeys have been saved by a simple innovation, arboreal rope bridges.
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Before we talk monkeys, first come to Diani Beach, Kenya’s version the Florida keys. Driving down the highway you will notice about 20 rope bridges swinging over the highway. If you are there at the right time of the day, you’ll notice it swinging, look harder you’ll see a little bulge with a tail. Before you flash by, you might just recognize that it’s a monkey sitting up there. Yes it’s watching you! And then in a burst of action an entire troop of black and white might start galloping across the wildly swaying bridge!
Colobridges were built by the Colobus Trust to save the rare Angolan colobus monkeys from road traffic accidents
In the 1990’s it was predicted that this species could be driven to extinction within a decade. Faced with a crisis innovative solutions were sought – Lollipop stick men were deployed at major crossing points, roadsigns erected to slow down the speed, and education for taxis, stickers in matatus (local buses), and speeding tour operators were reported to the Residents Association. The idea of speed humps was rejected – in general it was tough to get any support, after all, who really cares about a bunch of thieving monkeys?
The bridges cost about 400 dollars each and are made of cable, rubber and PVC. The bridges straddles the Diani Beach highway between two of the monkeys favourite trees on either side of the highway.
Being naturally shy, the colobus stared at the bridges with disdain for a couple of months until the more inquisitive and daring Sykes monkey began to see the logic. Once the Sykes and even vervet monkeys started using the bridges, the colobus followed suit, and are now very comfortable with their arboreal walkways.
This is an Amazing video of Colobus crossing a “colobridge” (Warning this video is GREAT but the link take you to another site – so read on first or you”ll miss the Australian madness)
There are now 23 ‘Colobridges’ and it’s estimated that they are used 150,000 time a year by at least three different species of monkeys! Amazing because there are only 300 of these Angolan colobus monkeys left in Diani where road kills are now rare.
Not for everyone: Bridges have also been deployed in Zanzibar to save the crazy looking Kirks red colobus but it looks like they aren’t interested in using them. Check out the photos of a confused monkey here
Colobridges have been exported, three arboreal bridges have been built in Australia for possums, squirrel gliders and other arboreal species down there.