Kenya Wildlife Services and Kikombe the Sykes….

A few months ago I spotted a Sykes monkey on our roof with a snare and metal cup attached to its neck. While moving around it had to hold it up with one hand. It took some time before we saw it again. Kenya Wildlife Services immediately got involved to free the little primate.


In the front Kikombe with the snare around it’s neck

A few weeks ago I saw a monkey with a wire wrapped around its neck and a big metal mug  hanging from it. It was walking on three legs holding the mug which had a hole in it and looked like some sort of bell or home-made snare.

Like many of the Sykes monkeys around this area it was not very shy and got fairly close to me. While it was sitting on the roof eating  seeds from the tree nearby I got to see a little of the wire which was thick and tightly wrapped. Wounds around it’s neck showed the wear and tear the wire has had on its body. At first I thought it might be a home made bell from a vegetable garden or shamba meant to scare birds and monkeys away. But when  seeing how it was wrapped so tighly to fit it’s neck it looked more like a home made snare or trap. I made photos with my phone, hence the gritty quality, and showed them to our household staff. Soon it turned out that our house staff had seen it around our place already a few times months ago.


How to catch a monkey


KWS is the only organisation with wildlife traps and they are experts on trapping wildlife so when I called my veterinarian he refered me to them. After talking to a few different officers the photos I took were send to the community warden Mr. James Kiparos and we immediately had a few phone calls on how to tackle this. We didn’t see Kikombe that frequently which made it a little difficult to decide on a strategy.  Should I put out carrots every day to see if it would develop a pattern of coming here and then set a trap? Of course there was always the option of darting the monkey with a sedative but there is the risk of it falling from a high up tree when the sedative starts to kick in and both my veterinarian Dr Mossin and  Mr. Kiparos wisely advised against it.

In the week after I kept KWS in the loop on the timings it showed up at our house and yesterday the KWS vet decided we had a good chance at catching it with a trap in our garden.


img-20161208-wa0004 The trap is brought in from the truck by our own Daniel (middle), KWS ranger Titus (right) and the KWS veterinarian (left)

KWS staff member Titus demonstrates how to place the banana and set up the trap



Setting up the trap. Community warden Mr. Kiparos (left) is giving us more explanation on Sykes monkeys and how to lure our little target


Besides freeing Kikombe from it’s contraption KWS is interested in trapping this monkey in efforts to investigate snaring of animals. From the pictures  I made the veterinarian and Mr. Kiparos were quite certain that someone had caught Kikombe as a pet and the snare around the neck was in fact an improvised bell to keep track of its whereabouts.

Sometimes KWS has been called to residences to catch monkeys that have been a nuisance one way or the other, the KWS team explained. When releasing these little guys in the park some do not want to leave and sometimes even try to get back into the truck. It is then that they realize these monkeys were kept as pets and people just grew tired of them. These Sykes monkeys have to be brought to a sanctuary because they no longer can survive in the wild. It is incredibly sad.

Daniel, our domestic help/gardener/organic farmer, said he had seen Kikombe for about a year mostly staying in two trees by itself. KWS considered this the best place to set up a trap. They showed Daniel, who is always happy to help and learn something new, how to set it up. Now we have to wait for the troupe to show.


Two Days later….


Two days after KWS placed a trap Kikombe was sitting in a tree with a few others. The big white mug in sharp contrast with the shady palm tree tops gave it away. We locked the dogs and opened the trap door. Since it was still not very enticed by the banana in the cage I made it a little more interesting. Walking under the tree in the garden casually showing a cut up banana I was able to catch it’s attention. Kikombe was quite intrigued.

When I trew a piece it was already stepping down a few branches, curious. It then started to snack its way down the trail of pieces I laid out up to the trap.  Kikombe even sat on the trap for a minute or so which made me worried that the door would slam shut due to the wiggling and chase it away forever. The remaining banana pieces I left in the door opening.  To not scare Kikombe I walked away. Seconds later I heard the trap door slam shut, locking in little Kikombe, still holding the mug with one hand.

KWS  retrieved Kikombe the same day and the veterinarian freed it from the contraption.  We were all so happy,  and a bit surprised that it only had taken less than 2 days. So much luck on my side I couldn’t believe it!

This has made me so happy, so very happy. All I wanted for the holidays was  Kikombe to be free of this trap.


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KWS Animal Orphanage


The weekend after we went for a morning drive in Nairobi National Park. The KWS Animal Orphanage is just at the entrance so we decided to see if we could check up on Kikombe. I was so curious how she was doing. We were told by the staff that she was still with the veterinarian for treatment and we might be able to see her  next week.

The next day I received a message from KWS community warden James Kiparos with two photos. First discovery, Kikombe is a girl. So she’ll be refered to as such from now on 🙂 It said that the snare cup had been removed and that she was getting treatment for the wounds. The two pictures are below. You can see the wounds in her neck are gruesomely deep and it just makes me cringe when I think Kikombe has been dealing with this for such a long time before we caught her.


These are photo’s from a phone so not very high def but clearly you can see how deep the wire has cut into her flesh over time. Photo credits: James Kiparos KWS Nairobi

Back in the Wild


About 10 days later I called KWS James Kiparos again to see how Kikombe was getting on. She recovered very fast from her wounds and displayed visible relief and happiness from being without the mug James said. KWS released her in Nairobi National Park where she immediately joined the company of three other Sykes monkeys part of troupe led by a dominant male. KWS hasn’t spotted her in a week or so which is not strange seen the size of the area. My guess is that it is also a good indication that she is not attached to humans and doesn’t seek their company.

Besides getting Kikombe freed of her trap I also feel very lucky to meet the people from KWS upclose and see their love for the wild life.


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