As primates are our closest living relatives, it’s only natural they are diverse like us. From powerful gorillas to beautiful golden lion tamarins, primates have colonised every continent. One of the most unique species is the proboscis monkey of Borneo. Known for their distinctive long nose, proboscis monkeys have a number of weird and wonderful traits.
They use their noses to attract mates, and scientists believe the noses contain an echo chamber. This means males can amplify their calls to impress females and intimidate rivals. Proboscis monkeys also possess webbed feet, making them expert swimmers as they leap from tree branches and hit the water. They are capable of outpacing crocodiles, who are some of their main predators.
Proboscis monkeys eat leaves, seeds, unripe fruit and insects. They will only eat unripe fruit because the sugar in ripe fruit can ferment in their stomachs, causing fatal bloating. As a result they have a complex, chambered stomach that allows them to digest their food properly. The monkeys normally live in groups, composed of one adult male, females and their offspring. It’s not unusual for some individuals to be solitary. Communication is carried out with a number of sounds, including honks, roars and snarls. Males have a special honk reserved for infants which showcases reassurance.
The species is considered endangered, with the total population decreasing by more than 50% in the past 40 years. This is due to their habitats being cut down for timber and the land being used for oil plant plantations. The destruction of their homes mean the monkeys are forced onto the ground and have to travel longer distances to find food. This puts them at risk from jaguars and some native Indonesian people who consider them a delicacy.
Proboscismonkey.org is dedicated to protecting the species. The aim of the website is to send a letter with neverending signatures to the Malaysian Minister of Tourism and Idonesian Minister of Forestry so they can be informed of the plight of the monkeys. You can donate money to protect the monkeys and help to get the attention of important ambassadors such as Richard Branson.
Proboscis monkeys are some of the most little known primates in the world, so bringing further awareness to them is important for conservation purposes.