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Proboscis monkeys 

(monkeys with really big noses)

 

 

While visiting  Kota Kinabalu in  Sabah  Borneo I took a boat to a near island  called Palau Gaya.  An islandcovered in forest  and very humid, after a couple of hours hiking I spotted a shape in the trees.  Walking carefully, being careful not to break any twigs so as not to make any noise, I couldn’t believe it, a troop of Proboscis Monkeys.  I whipped out my camera to get a couple of shots, through the lens I saw mothers minding their young, the big males scratching themselves and eating leaves. The adults all had pot bellies.

 

These bellies contain a bacterial soup that helps them to digest seeds and green fruits leaves.  With all these bacteria  for them to eat sweet fruit would be deadly as the sugars would ferment bloat and burst their stomach. Their bellies can weigh  one quarter of their total body weight.

 

Most noticeable of all was the male’s cartoon like bulbous nose, females have more petite noses. The males nose can hang down seven inches or more.  It is thought  the bigger the nose the more attractive he is to the female.

 

They are generally  found  near rivers or mangroves.  Being excellent swimmers they have often been found by fisher men a mile out to sea.

 

I watched through the trees for about ten minutes or so and saw how they related to each other, the mothers feeding their young, while the adolescents played and preened each other.

 

I decided to move in a bit closer to get a better shot.  I stepped on a twig and suddenly like a flash every male, mother and child went crashing down to the forest floor, there was a trashing of branches and they were all gone.

 

I noticed this on the Kalimantan river banks before you would see or hear a troop of monkeys and this huge commotion of monkeys dropping then trashing through the vegetation.

 

Of course like any animal story you read and hear about there is always that  inevitable story of how man is encroaching on their land and destroying their habitats  bla bla bla.. But! when you are there and you can see the  miles and miles of palm oil plantations and the flattened rainforest  you do feel sad.  All you can hope is that  the government and people of the country see what they are loosing, or be influenced to change their attitude.

 

There are currently 8000 living Proboscis Monkeys  in Borneo, the only place they exist in the world.

 

 

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