Monkey see Monkey do

When you visit Diani Beach, Kenya’s version the Florida keys, look up and you’ll see 20 rope bridges swinging over the highway – what’s that little bulge with a tail? Before you flash by, you will realise that it’s a monkey sitting up there. Yes it’s watching you! And then, a burst of action as an entire troop of black and white might start galloping across the wildly swaying bridge!

Colous on the Bridge
Colous on the Bridge

Colobridges were built by the Colobus Trust to save the rare Angolan colobus monkeys from road traffic accidents

Colobus road kill.."What's black and white and red all over" ... ok I agree, it's not funny.
Colobus road kill.."What's black and white and red all over" ... ok I agree, it's not funny.

Faced with a crisis that could eliminate the species in Kenya, innovative solutions were tried from Lollipop stick men at major monkey crossing points, roadsigns to slow down the speed, and education for taxis, stickers in matatus (local buses).

One of Kenyas most beautiful monkeys found only in the forests of teh South Coast
The Angolan colobus is one of Kenya's rarest and most beautiful monkeys found only in the forests of the South Coast

The bridges were the most successful. Designed locally and made of cable, rubber and PVC, each bridge takes a day to erect and costs about $500. The bridges connect two of the monkeys favourite trees on either side of the highway.

Watching the world go by
Watching the world go by

Being naturally shy, the colobus initially stared at the bridges gadgets with disdain 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 clever enough to use them (some species are just slow)! Check out the photos of a confused monkey here

Confused monkey crossing on the road instead of using the bridge!
Confused monkey crossing on the road instead of using the bridge!

My plug for my favourite primate “Hug a colobus today”.

Colobridges go global or ‘Australia steals our African ideas’: Though they don’t admit it, the “colobridge” innovation inspired rope bridges to save freaky creatures in Australia too

Ring tailed possums use bridges too
No, not rats, but a family of ring tailed possums crossing a rope bridge (they look like a pack of terrified rodents to me)

Of course the Aussies always do things bigger and better… check this one out!

Mega rope bridge in Australia - its not going to help roos though
Mega rope bridge in Australia - it might help a koala, but not kangaroo's (I hear that road rage against roo's isn't uncommon over there)

26 thoughts on “Monkey see Monkey do”

  1. Funny that you posted about this today. I was just there yesterday! They are doing some amazing work and am pleased to see that the electricity authorities (KPLC) are finally also waking up and taking responsibility.

  2. We just have tunnels for small mammals such as hedgehogs. Oh, and I think we have a bridge or two for larger animals such as deer and moose (or is it elk?), but these “green bridges” are big, massive constructs, not small and simple like the colobridge.

  3. Thanks for the comments. Dipesh did you hug a colobus? Send us any photos dude! I miss those monkeys. It would be great if you guys spread the word – the Colobus Trust needs to create awareness and to get support. If anyone wants to do something useful, volunteer at the Colobus (I didn’t tell you but they are located on one of the most spectacular beaches in the world!)

  4. Hi Duncan, I’ve only been to Australia once (sadly) and having grown up on the “Skippy” image of Kangaroos I was surprised that in some places these animals can be pests… dangerous ones at that for road users especially. I know that it’s a safety feature but the popular ‘Roo bars’ fitted on the the front of the vehicles was often joked about – so my comment was tongue in cheek – something I just heard whenever we came across a roo road kill. Hope it didn’t offend you.

  5. Nice article. I was in Diani a couple of years ago and visited the Trust. There were no Colubus to be seen. When I arrived back at the house we were staying there were several in the trees entertaining my friends.

    Great to see the bridges are inspiring others..I’m shocked that each one costs about $500 dollars, isn’t that at least a years income for the average Kenyan? Material costs must be high

  6. So good to see the pictures of the bridges again, when I first saw them on a IPPL meeting I was so taken with them, I visited Paula at Colobus trust soon after. It was a fantastic experience, and all the memories came flooding back with these pictures. Bless.

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