The Proboscis Monkey

Due to the way the world is today many plants and animals are now in
human terms homeless. People and industry have literally taken over the
property of things that do not belong to them. For example, if you were
having a cookout at home and someone came over and told you that they were
going to take your backyard and you could just go inside. Then they took
your house and said that you could just live in the garage. Well, I won’t
continue but you can figure out the rest on your own. People are actually
taking the homes of animals. One of the most unique animals that has
suffered from these consequences is the Proboscis Monkey.

The Proboscis Monkey is found in the coastal and river regions on the
island of Borneo. They can also be found in the forests of the lower
Kinabatangan River. It is only in the Menanggol River, a small tributary
of the lower Kinabatangan, that the proboscis monkeys have become used to
human presence and do not shy away from visitors and wildlife enthusiasts.
The Proboscis Monkey, Nasalis Larvatus, is one of the most unusual
animals in the world.

The male proboscis is a bizarre-looking creature; on average it weighs 20
kg and possesses a characteristic pot belly and a huge red nose. It is
probably the ugliest (or most attractive!) monkey in the world and definitely
one of the largest. Proboscis monkeys are reddish-brown in colour, with grey
limbs and long white tails. They move about in small groups, but these are
loose gatherings. Different social groups, or harems, frequently meet at
riversides and animals do move between groups. They feed on young leaves,
shoots, sour fruits and seeds, and are mostly arboreal (tree living). However,
they have been known to leave the trees in order to cross open ground, or pass
through nipah palms. They are also proficient swimmers and expert at leaping
from tree to tree, or from a riverside tree into the middle of a river.

The proboscis monkey's Malay name came about during the colonial
period. The locals felt that the Proboscis resembled the European traders
and colonialists (both were hairy, both had big noses, both had pot bellies!),
so the monkey was dubbed the Monyet Belanda - "Dutchman Monkey".

Sadly, the proboscis monkey is threatened with extinction owing to loss
of habitat and hunting. For example, in 1977, an estimated 6,400 proboscis
monkeys were found living in Sarawak. Today there are only 1,000. In
addition to these, there are 2,000 in Sabah and perhaps 4,000 or so in
Kalimantan. This critical situation has resulted in action, and a number of
conservation measures have been implemented to protect the proboscis monkey.
The Sarawak Forestry Department was involved in the first ever detailed
study of the species, and the government has gazetted national parks and
wildlife sanctuaries to provide protection. The Forestry Department also
has an education unit which goes to villages, particularly near the reserves, to
educate the population on the importance of wildlife conservation.

Some of the characteristics of these primates are as follows.....

SIZE: 56 to 72 cm
WEIGHT: 8.2 to 23. kg
GESTATION: 166 days. One young is born at a time, and
breeding is not restricted to a season.
COLORATION: Reddish-brown or chestnut color on the back,
orange on the shoulders with grey limbs and long white tails. A little
dark red fur on the top of the head goes down the back.
BEHAVIOUR: Proboscis monkeys move about and live in
groups of 11-32. They live in single-male harems with about seven
females. The small harems often come together to form multiple-male
bands which are thought to be temporary foraging aggregations. Often
bands of up to 60 can be found roosting together in trees near
rivers at night. Males usually leave their natal groups and can be either
solitary or form bachelor herds getting their own harems. Females may
move from one harem to another when young, but otherwise harems are
stable. Males confront intruders.

DIET: Proboscis monkeys are vegetarian and predominantly
eat leaves, although fruit, seeds, and flowers are included in their diet
when available. They prefer the pedada leaves.
HABITAT: Proboscis monkeys live almost exclusively in
mangrove forests near fresh water and in lowland rainforests. They
can be found near rivers edges, resting and sleeping. Areas around
human settlements are completely avoided. They are mostly arboreal
(tree living) but have been