Borneo is home to 13 species of primates including orangutans and the Proboscis monkey, although orangutans are technically apes, not monkeys. The easiest way to differentiate between apes and monkeys is that apes are normally bigger in comparison, have larger brains and do not have tails.

One of the most interesting monkeys in Borneo is the Proboscis monkey (Nasalis Larvatus), which is endemic to Borneo. Proboscis means nose which is why they are so easily recognised. The males have a very large nose and stomach. Unfortunately, during Dutch colonisation they were commonly called a Dutch monkey, reflecting the resemblance to Dutchmen.

Male Proboscis

Interestingly though, the larger the nose and stomach are said to be more attractive to the ladies. They are not fat, but have swollen stomachs due to the bacteria that help to digest leaves, removing poisons and other toxins. Even with such a big belly they are the best swimmers often seen jumping from tree to tree and across streams with non-successful attempt ending in a gigantic bellyflop. Closely followed by a quick scramble to the nearest tree before a local crocodile can grab and easy meal.

The monkeys live in large harem groups with one dominant male. He will chase away young males from the group when they start to get too big, and are always on the lookout for some young male, trying to steal one of his ladies or worse, take him down. The large nose also creates a loud sound to attract attention and scare off intruders.

The females are of course much smaller in size, but it’s the babies that are the cutest. When they are born their faces are bright blue and as they slowly get older and bigger the colour starts to fade. Only a face a mother can love they say.