Proboscis Monkey sanctuary urged in Heart of Borneo By Michael A Bengwayan KOTA KINABALU, SABAH

Proboscis Monkey sanctuary urged in Heart of Borneo

Michael A Bengwayan
KOTA KINABALU, SABAH

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Borneo staple: The big-nosed (‘proboscis’) leaf-eating monkey, already considered endangered, is rapidly undergoing population reduction in its Borneo habitat. Picture: www.hormiga.org
Michael A Bengwayan
KOTA KINABALU, SABAH
THE proboscis monkey (Nasalis larvatus), which is found only in the Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia Borneo is feared to be extinct in the next 20 years due to habitat destruction. 

This leaf-eating monkey, already considered endangered by the United Nations’ International union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is rapidly undergoing population reduction. At least 50 per cent of the total population will be gone in the next ten years, the Wildlife and National Parks Management of the regional Food and Agricultural Organisation in Bangkok said.

The natural habitat of proboscis monkey is mangroves and riverine peat swamps and freshwater swamps. But these are already threatened especially in Kalimantan, Indonesia and in Sarawak and Sabah, Malaysia.

This is due to habitat alteration for urban development, agricultural activities, palm plantation expansion and hunting pressure.

There is a need to implement immediate conservation measures to safeguard the threatened habitats, the UN body said.

The proboscis monkey is characterised by elongated and pendulous nose, which gives them their names. The nose looks like an outsized appendage and is used in sexual displays and also as a voice amplifier. The male monkeys are pot-bellied and twice as large as the females.

The Heart of Borneo remains the main haven of the monkey but it is on the Brunei side that they are safest, because natural forest clearing there is strictly prohibited — unlike the Malaysian and Indonesia sides which are being logged over.

FAO urged that a buffer zone be made as a sanctuary for the monkeys and other mangrove associated species in the Heart of Borneo.

There is also a need to rehabilitate degraded mangroves where these monkeys depend upon.

Urging private plantation owners to help in the conservation effort, FAO advised them to promote eco-tourism in biodiversity conservation, thus providing a safe habitat for the monkeys.

The writer covers environment and community development issues.

The Brunei Times

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