Today’s endangered animal comes straight from the coastal forests of Borneo. Sadly, pretty much all the animals in Borneo are Endangered, Critically Endangered or Extinct already. However, efforts are being made to save the surviving few.
I want to start by saying that if you Google the word proboscis it means the nose of a mammal, usually a long nose or it’s the mouth-like snout of an insect. So, seeing the picture of this monkey, you can imagine how it obtained it’s name. It’s scientific name is Nasalis lavatus. Proboscis monkeys don’t grow to be very tall. Only a little over 2 feet tall with males weighing up to about 50 pounds and females weighing less than that. You can find them in the arboreal coastal lowlands of the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia where they are endemic.
You can distinguish adult proboscis monkeys from offspring because of their coloring. Adults have light brown or red fur with pale faces while their young are born with black fur and blue faces. The bulbous nose is only found on male proboscis monkeys. The main reason for such a large nose has to do with obtaining and attracting mates. Proboscis monkeys live in groups of harems where you have one male and between to to six females. They have specialized mating calls and it is speculated that the echo of these calls is amplified because of their noses. In the case of this species, size matters… a lot. Scientists have speculated that the size and length of the nose has a direct correlation with the size and length of the penis and the testes. The bigger the nose, the bigger the reproductive parts. The nose is always growing too. As males age, their noses become larger and longer.
Diet of proboscis monkeys mostly consists of leaves, seeds and unripe fruits. Offspring are born after a gestation period of six months. Like humans, proboscis monkeys only have one offspring at a time and will remain with mom and the rest of the harem for several years. If the offspring is male, once he reaches maturity, he goes off and joins bachelor groups. Proboscis monkeys primarily spend most of their time in trees but they will come down to land if food is scarce. Another feature of these monkeys is their swimming ability. There have been sightings of proboscis monkeys belly flopping into rivers to swim across in search of more food. What makes them such great swimmers are their partially webbed hands and feet! They are able to escape predators such as large lizards and crocodiles because they are such good, fast swimmers.
The proboscis monkey has been listed as Endangered since the year 2000 with less than 1000 individuals remaining in the wild. The main causes of population decline are illegal hunting and capture and habitat destruction. The rainforest and mangroves trees have been cleared for the harvest of timber and implementation of oil palm plantations. This forces the proboscis monkeys to come to land more often and travel far distances for food making them easy prey for land animals such as jaguars. Hunting is also a problem because even though they are banned from being sold internationally, they are still sold within the area and some natives consider them a delicacy.
There are ongoing conservation efforts. One of which is a wildlife sanctuary but even that is a challenge for the proboscis monkeys especially since they do not do well in captivity. There are not any direct links to contribute to saving proboscis monkeys specifically but donating to any project that’s goal is to save rainforests is a start.