PSGB Award 2023: A big win for colobus!

28 April 2023


Born Free is delighted to announce the winner of this year’s Primate Society of Great Britain grant, together with great progress from last year’s victor.

A colobus monkey perched atop a tree branch.

Born Free and the Primate Society of Great Britain (PSGB), the UK’s national primatological society, offer an annual £1,500 conservation grant to support national researchers from countries with threatened primates – the group of mammals which includes apes, monkeys and lemurs.

Through the grant, Born Free has supported many early-career conservationists as they protect species including red-bellied guenon, white-thighed colobus, olive colobus, Barbary macaques, Preuss’ red colobus, western chimpanzees, the Caquetá Tití monkey, and the spider monkey.


Portrait image of Camille Wekesa.

“OPP’s main aims as a community-based organization are to restore the riverine habitat along the Ontulili river, in Nanyuki, Kenya, educate the local community about human-primate co-existence and instil a love of nature, the environment and primates and wildlife to the next generation of young Kenyans through art education and creativity.”  – Camille Wekesa, Chair OPP

Born Free is pleased to announce the winner of the 2023 PSGB Conservation Grant is Camille Wekesa from Ontulili Primates Protection (OPP).

OPP is a community-based organisation operating on a five-mile (eight kilometre) stretch of the 27-mile (43km) Ontulili river in Nanyuki, a town 124 miles (200km) from Nairobi, Kenya – a world renowned conservation area and home to several world heritage sites.

The goal of this project is to secure and restore the Ontuilili River Riparian Corridor habitat, in the foothills of Mount Kenya, to conserve Mount Kenya black-and-white colobus monkeys (Colobus guereza kikuyuensis). The Ontulili river also supports other primates such as baboon and the Sykes’ monkey as well as various wildlife: leopard, serval cat, bushbuck, antelope, a large variety of birdlife, hyena, hyrax and many other species.

OPP have initiated women-led conservation projects, including supporting a group of nine women guardian patrol team who monitor the colobus monkeys and other wildlife along Ontulili river on a weekly basis; supporting a group of 25 local women to set up and run a tree nursery to support the guardians work in replanting the riparian area; and holding weekly art and creative classes run by professional artists for the youth in the area to help instil a love of nature and the environment from a young age.

The Conservation Grant will be used to support OPP in achieving their aim. The grant will allow OPP to hold several meetings with the community, to sensitise them to primate conservation, and inform them and include them in decisions regarding the project. The grant will also fund the installation of a tunnel bridge, which will allow free movement of both people and primates, without the risk of primate-human attack. As with many species, human-wildlife conflict is a serious barrier to the conservation of primates.

The tunnel will mitigate against the risk of this type of conflict, facilitating coexistence and conservation of colobus monkeys. Finally, the project aims to restore the forest habitat and increase habitat connectivity for primates. Seed harvesting training will be provided, as well as a preparation and management of a tree nursery. The trees from this nursery will be used to feed the restoration activities and provide habitat for primates to thrive.

Through these activities, the project hopes to achieve long-term behavioural change of the local people living alongside primates in this region – an essential component to achieve true coexistence. These behavioural changes will reduce activities that destruct the habitat and harm primate populations including the use of charcoal kilns, introduction of exotic species, and snaring of primates.

We look forward to reporting what Camille and the team at Ontulili Primates Protection achieve over the next year! 


Born Free is also happy to report on the achievements of Tekou Ngute Herve, winner of 2022’s PSGB grant recipient, and his team over the last year. The sensitisation sessions directly reached 75 people and a further 1,500 were reached indirectly.

An important demographic to target with conservation sensitisation are children, and, via this project, 1000 students were sensitised to mandrill conservation through the creation of Mandrill Conservation Clubs in local primary and secondary schools.

Furthermore, the bushmeat legislation awareness sessions were targeted towards individuals engaged in the bushmeat trade, which resulted in ten hunters, eight traders and 36 consumers were educated on the legislation and sensitised to mandrill conservation. Thirty members of the Nkongo community and 35 members of the Nyamabandé community were trained in sustainable snail farming techniques. This is important to provide an alternative livelihood income and reduce reliance on bushmeat hunting.

Finally, the funding has helped support the eco-guards in the protected area to enforce wildlife law, securing the habitat and protecting mandrills and numerous other species in the Campo Ma’an National Park. It is great to see so the effort that has been made over the last year to conserve the mandrills in Campo Ma’an National Park. The holistic activities implemented will greatly benefit the long-term coexistence between people and mandrills.