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Proboscis monkeys also found in Pulau Gaya
Published on: Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Kota Kinabalu: To many people, the only place to see proboscis monkeys might mean a costly and time-consuming trip to the Kinabatangan on the east coast or the west coast mangrove belt starting from Klias. Little do they know that there exists a colony of up to 30 proboscis monkeys within 10 minutes by boat from the city's waterfront.

Or to be more precise - in the mangrove swamps of Pulau Gaya, one of the five Tunku Abdul Rahman Park islands.

Sabah Parks Board Director, Paul Basintal, said the park's research unit found that the colony is among the natural wildlife inhabitants in the 15-sq km forested island.

It is probably the same colony where a male proboscis monkey rescued from drowning in waters off nearby Pulau Sapi on Saturday originated from, he said, when asked about the monkey rescue by a dive team during a trip to Sapi that day.

The rescue took place at a dive site called Clement Reef and the proboscis, after being rescued, was brought to the Sabak Parks office in Pulau Sapi, where it was later released back into the wild.

Paul said he has directed the Sabah Parks rangers to continuously monitor the rescued proboscis monkey which has adapted well with the island's surroundings although alone there.

"Our men are still gathering information and checking on the actual reason for the near drowning," he said, adding that proboscis moneys are adept swimmers.

It is a daily occurrence for monkeys to wade across to and from Gaya and Sapi islands, which is linked by a sand bank, particularly during low tides.

Although just 200 metres wide and half a kilometre long, Sapi is one of the most popular islands offering five kilometre-long nature trails. Other than Gaya and Sapi islands, Tunku Abdul Rahman Park that was established in 1974 also consists of the Manukan, Mamutik and Sulug islands.

Other animals also found there are long-tailed macaques, monitor lizards, bearded pigs and pangolins, besides small mammals and a variety of birds like the whitebellied sea eagle, pied hornbill, green heron, sandpipers, flycatchers and sunbirds. Wood swallows, pigeons and other fruit eaters are occasional visitors.

Proboscis monkeys (Nasalis larvatus), also locally known as Kera Belanda or Bangkatan, are one of the nine categorised as totally protected under the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Ordinance. It is threatened mainly by habitat loss and poaching.

State Wildlife Department senior officer, Augustine Tuuga, said there are at least 5,000 proboscis monkeys in the State, the majority of which can be found in mangrove swamps in Sukau, Kinabatangan, Kuala Segama, Kota Belud, Kawang, Klias and Weston.

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