National Geographic : 2002 Aug
ASIA A* WWALu Known range of the proboscis monkey M (Nasalis larvatus) o Protected area BRUNEI "KiT i"r LOWER KINABATANGAN VILDUFE SANCTUARY 9', I Omi 200 Okm 200 SOURCE:EDCOLUN. THEGIBBONFOUNDATION NATIONALGEOGRAPHICMAPS he sinuous curves of Sarawak's Salak River (opposite) wind through coastal mangrove and swamp forests, prime proboscis mon key habitat. Nearby at Bako * National Park, I sat in a blind and witnessed a rare sight a proboscis monkey at eye level, crossing a patch of beach (below). Caught in mid-stride, this adult male displays the long-limbed grace of a primate well suited to life in the trees. The imposing tail is not used for gripping but may aid in balance as a monkey leaps aloft. Specialized plant-eaters, proboscis monkeys appear permanently potbellied because of their huge chambered stom achs, which contain a bacterial soup that helps them digest seeds, leaves, and green fruits. They avoid sweet fruits, which could cause deadly bloating from rapid fermentation. Proboscis monkeys need large tracts of forest to sustain their dwindling populations on Borneo. Recently declared endangered, fewer than 8,000 monkeys may remain, though surveys have been limited. Imperiled by settlement, agri culture, swamp drainage, min ing, hunting, shrimp farming, and fire, these monkeys face odds longer than their noses.