Some years ago (1994), while embarking on Oil Palm Plantation development near the mangrove swamps of the present sanctuary, the owner of the site came to know of the proboscis monkeys living there. Fascinated, he learned more about the monkeys and their predicament. Few people in their quest for commercial gain would have paid much attention to the plight of these monkeys in their struggle for survival. However, for this owner, although the 400 plus acres of mangrove forest were initially bought for commercial development, the plan was quickly dropped so that these monkeys could continue to survive there without fear of losing their natural habitat. As the sources of the food for these monkeys had much dwindled, efforts were made to supplement the monkeys’ diet with fruits and water daily to ensure the conservation of these animals. This land continued for the last ten years and today overall groups of these monkeys totaling around 60 comes regularly for their meals. The diet supplement scheme had been very successful, not only were the monkeys coming back daily for their food; every now and again, it can be observed during feeding times that another newborn calf had been produced. Intially, carried around in their mother’s arms they soon become independent and continue their growth into adulthood. At present, an observation platform had been erected to give visitors an excellent view of these monkeys during feeding times. Accommodation and other facilities re also available. Bangakatan House (observation platform area) has now been upgrade to cater tourists and become a must to visit after a tour to Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre.
The Malay name for the species is “Monyet Belanda”. Proboscis monkeys are excellent swimmers. But swim only when necessary and for pleasure. The proboscis monkeys are only found in certain parts of Borneo. The monkeys inhabits forests newar coastal swamps or those containing rivers and lakes.
The only place in the world where proboscis monkeys occur is the Island of Borneo in South-East Asia. And they are not even found throughout all of Borneo. They are forest-dwellers and limited mainly to coastal swamp forests next to large rivers.The calls of the proboscis monkey were also a subject of praise. In 128, the then curator of the Sarawak Museum, Eric Mjoberg, wrote that “the enormous nose is a sounding board that strengthens and deepens the male’s vocal powers… The sound is deep and nasal, strongly reminiscent of the bass viol. Possibly too, there is some aesthetic touch in it, for the females find the sound attractive and crowd round their musically gifted leader.”