Continuing with my volunteer stint in Kenya, I moved over to Shimoni peninsula for a week of work in the forest. The focus was to collect data on the resident Angolan black and white colobus monkeys, but a lot of time was also spent collecting data on the habitat, including on other mammals, on butterflies and birds, and on the vegetation.
We spent long hours walking along transects in the forest – under hanging branches and vines, over fallen logs, and through thorny bushes – and I loved every minute of it, despite the collection of cuts and bruises I accumulated. We saw quite a few colobus as well as Sykes monkeys and olive baboons, bushbabies, tiny suni antelopes, a giant pouched rat, and a few birds.
The best bit was never knowing what you might see next (compared to the marine work where it was dolphins and more dolphins…). The worst bit was seeing the frightening rate of deforestation, as every day we saw or heard people cutting down trees, and one day saw an enormous, newly constructed charcoal pit – illegal, but there is no-one with the resources to enforce the rules.
We also spent a week in Shimoni doing community work. This was supposed to involve teaching English, but as school had not restarted we were allocated to painting a school classroom instead. I have no artistic abilities, but was so relieved to get out of the teaching, having been dreading the thought of standing up in front of a room full of children, that I was happy to be asked to paint pictures to illustrate the numbers 3 – 7!