Jun 112011
Proboscis Monkey eating lunch (leaves) at Bako National Park in Borneo, Malaysia February 2011

I was fascinated by Borneo’s Proboscis Monkeys, not just because of the rare chance to observe and photograph an endangered species in the wild (only found in Borneo), but also because the seem so human-like.  Imagine a monkey with a distinctive huge nose (a male proboscis monkey’s nose can reach up to 7 inches in length!) and a pot belly, that often walks upright (rare for mammals) and sits a little like humans sit.  Their name, Nasalis larvatus, literally translates to “long nose,” and you can see why (below):

Proboscis monkeys, the most distinctive looking primates on the planet | Bako National Park in Borneo | Malaysia

Proboscis monkeys, the most distinctive looking primates on the planet

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. So 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 Monkey in Bako National Park, in Borneo, Sarawak, Malaysia

female probiscis monkey in Borneo. Females have much smaller noses

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. And 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.

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


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

    Proboscis Monkey in Bako National Park, in Borneo, Sarawak, Malaysia

    mmm…yummy leaves

  • Size: Male Proboscis Monkeys can be twice the weight of females – up to 50 pounds vs 25 pounds.
  • Protecting proboscis monkeys – they only live in Borneo, the only place they can survive in Borneo.

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.

Common Name: Monyet Belanda
Genus: Nasalis

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


Video clip of Proboscis Monkeys strolling through mangroves:


More of my proboscis monkey photography from my time in Borneo can be found here.

More on the rare Proboscis Monkey on Wikipedia, and on National Geographic‘s proboscis monkey site.

My trip was filled with up close encounters with baby wildlife – seeing baby elephants and baby monkeys in Borneo. I also saw other types of animals up close - tarsiersmacaquesproboscis monkeyssharkspythonscamels, and more!

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  One Response to “Up close with Borneo’s Proboscis Monkey”

  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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