Proboscis Monkeys: Up close

Borneo’s Proboscis Monkeys

I was fascinated by Borneo’s Proboscis Monkeys! It was a rare chance to observe and photograph an endangered species in the wild. Proboscis Monkeys seem so human-like!  Imagine a monkey with a distinctive huge nose and a pot belly. They often walk upright (rare for mammals) and sit like humans sit.

The proboscis monkey name, Nasalis larvatus, literally translates to “long nose,” and you can see why (below):

Rare Proboscis Monkey - relaxing on a low branch  | Bako National Park in Borneo, Malaysia
Rare Proboscis Monkey – relaxing on a low branch, in Borneo, Malaysia

A male proboscis monkey’s nose can reach up to 7 inches in length!

Sometimes Proboscis Monkeys seem so human-like!  This proboscis monkey was frantically eating as if he hadn’t eaten for days! Take a look in this video clip from my time in Malaysian Borneo:

Bako National Park also has bearded pigs, which greeted us upon entering the island. When we heard a typical pig sound later in the day, we were surprised to hear these honking sounds coming from proboscis monkeys.

Proboscis monkeys live on a special diet of leaves, flowers and seeds of vegetation found only in rivers, mangroves, and peat swamps
Proboscis monkeys live on a special diet of leaves, flowers and seeds of vegetation found only in rivers, mangroves, and peat swamps
Female proboscis monkeys have much smaller noses - Borneo, Sarawak, Malaysia
Female proboscis monkeys have much smaller noses – Borneo, Sarawak, Malaysia

Orangutans are much more closely related to humans, but the mannerisms of proboscis monkeys made me stop in my tracks and want to observe them all day. I did.

Proboscis monkeys are proficient swimmers, using the webbing between their fingers to move quietly (so as not to attract predators, like crocodiles) using a form of dog paddle, and seem to like the mangrove swamps.
Proboscis monkeys are proficient swimmers, using the webbing between their fingers to move quietly (so as not to attract predators, like crocodiles) using a form of dog paddle, and seem to like the mangrove swamps.

I’ve added Proboscis Monkey facts throughout this page. Enjoy!

Habitat:

  • Proboscis Monkeys live almost exclusively in mangrove forests like the one in the above photo from Bako. They can also be found in lowland rainforests.
  • Proboscis monkeys are dependent on habitats with rivers and streams.
  • Proboscis monkeys sleep in trees. They prefer thick branches growing over water to protect themselves from predators.

    Proboscis Monkey eating leaves, in Borneo, Sarawak, Malaysia
    Proboscis Monkey eating leaves
  • Size: Male Proboscis Monkeys can be twice the weight of females. Males can be up to 50 pounds. Females are up to 25 pounds.
  • Protecting — proboscis monkeys only live in Borneo. It’s the only place they can survive.

From National Geographic:

The monkeys of the world are divided into two groups: the Old World monkeys of Africa and Asia and the New World monkeys of Central and South America. Geography isn’t their only difference however. Many Old World monkeys, like the proboscis, have long thick tails that help them balance while capering, crashing, and careening around the forest. In fact, the names of several monkeys in this family describe their distinctive appendages: stumptailed, pigtailed, and lion-tailed monkeys. In contrast, many New World monkeys, like the familiar spider monkey, have prehensile tails, used like hands and feet to help them grasp limbs, swing through the treetops, and even dangle upside down while eating.

I generally like National Geographic’s wildlife pages, but based on my experiences in Bako National Park, I disagree with Nat Geo in one key area on proboscis monkeys.

Common Name: Monyet Belanda
Genus: Nasalis
Species:
larvatus

Proboscis Monkeys are only found in Borneo, adding to the excitement.

Video clip closeups from my first encounter with Proboscis Monkeys in the wild from my time in Malaysian Borneo:

Here’s a video clip of Proboscis Monkeys strolling through mangroves:

Find more of my proboscis monkey photography from my time in Borneo here.

There’s more info on the rare Proboscis Monkey on Wikipedia. You can also read more on National Geographic‘s proboscis monkey site.

One thought on “Proboscis Monkeys: Up close”

  1. this was the one! I can´t believe that monkeys this ugly can exist! So cool though, and I´m sure way more exciting to see them in their natural habitats than at the Bronx Zoo!

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