Sunday, February 21, 2010
Proboscis Monkey, EN ( endangered)
mixed media leather jointed sculpture
photo by Bruce Mathews
"Dutchmen monkeys", as they were known historically by local people on the island of Borneo, live only on this island in the treetops of riverine and coastal forests and swamps. The male monkeys huge noses, which swell and turn red when angry or excited, reminded the locals of the Dutch sailors during colonial times. These Dutchmen and Proboscis monkeys also shared the characteristic of appearing potbelllied. These monkeys have huge chambered stomachs which contain healthy bacterias that aid the digestion of leaves, seeds, and young sour fruits that make up their diet.
One of Asia's largest monkeys, the proboscis, who lives in groups, can weigh up to fifty pounds and have a lifespan of thirteen years. After a gestation period of 166 days, a female will give birth to one baby. Twins are rare. Proboscis monkeys have long thick tails which help them balance in treetops and are excellent swimmers due to their partially webbed hands and feet. This ability to swim allows the monkeys to cross rivers which are the crocodile's habitat. Crocodiles and humans are the main predators of this monkey.
The population trend for the Proboscis monkey is unknown because their habitat is shrinking at an alarming rate. These monkeys need vast expanses of native forests in order to hunt enough vegetal material for sustenance. Native forests are being logged for timber, burned to clear the land, and replaced with oil palm plantations. Palm oil, a major ingredient of soaps, moisturizer, lipstick, and foodstuffs such as margarine, confectionery, chocolate, and ice cream, is one of Malaysia's top exports.
In Sumatra the tigers and elephants are also losing their habitats due to these plantations.