The next generation after Allister and Bill from the popular TV programme on Discovery Channel and Planet Animal at the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary. Many of you might have come across the story of Allister & Bill at the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary through the popular TV channel Discovery or Animal Planet. This TV programme talked about how Allister and Bill and their harem, a group of thirty, lived their life in the forest, especially about the scarcity of food from the natural forest where they lived, which has been turned into plantations. While scavenging for foods, they finally met up with the plantation owner, Mr. Lee. Seeing and understanding how special and uniquely different these Proboscis Monkeys are, Mr. Lee had a heart for them, as they are one of the endangered species and also endemic to Sabah. He eventually got the insight to reserve five hundred acres of the swampy land and forest, and set up the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary.
In October 2010 a visit to the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary would surprise anyone to see so many Proboscis Monkeys thriving and roaming at the forests at Labuk Bay. While other places in Sabah can only give you a glimpse of the Proboscis Monkeys from a distance, here you can see them up close and personal. A few of them seem so friendly that some of you might even want to give them a hug. Although this is highly prohibited by the rangers, as these proboscis monkeys are still wild and untamed, so that no one would get hurt. An inquiry to the house guide, Jhonathan, on what has become to Allister & Bill, he looked agape and said “ They are gone long ago and what you are seeing now is the next generation of Allister & Bill.” So the next generation of Allister & Bill lives on and the following is an account of their story.
In the December of 2009 at Platform A, there were three harems. Typical of most Proboscis monkeys that lived in a harem group, normally consisting of a leading male and followed by as many as ten or more females as well as their young ones. One of the harem group belonged to John and the other group to Jonathan (not related to the in house guide Jhonathan). The third grouping was a bachelor-group and led by Putut, so named because of his short body. As in all living-males, they often fought for their females. So for the Proboscis monkeys here life was no difference. As the young males grew stronger they always looked for a challenge with the other leading males. So the time had come for Putut to take the next step. He made a challenge at John, and after a lengthy fight he finally defeated John. So Putut got the right to take over John’s harem. After a few days, the ranger saw that John was weak and his body was dirty with mud. He was not seen again after that, so presumably he was dead.
Putut life as a leading male, had access to all the females in the harem and he had to fence off the other males from the bachelor group. Jonathan also enjoyed a good life at the other harem as no one from the bachelor group dared to challenge him. But all good thing would come to an end. So after four months of dethroning John, Putut faced a new challenge. A group of bachelor males from another part of the forest came to challenge Putut. The leader of this bachelor group of six was called Naruto. Naruto fought with Putut and because of Putut’s short physical build, he was no match for Naruto. So after a short reign Putut was kicked back to the bachelor group and now Naruto took over the harem.
As the alpha male of the other harem group at Platform A, Jonathan was alarmed by what happened to Putut and he was afraid of the others in the Naruto bachelor group. So to source refuge he and his group went away for hiding in the forest and was not seen for days. Maybe because of food scarcity in the forest, Jonathan and his harem came out from the forest, and immediately he was challenged by Sasuki, who was the assistant of Naruto’s bachelor group. It is interesting to know that in a Proboscis monkey bachelor group there is always a leader and an assistant. After another long hour of fighting Jonathan gave way and he ran to the forest for refuge. What happened to most defeated alpha males is that they would live a solitary life until they die. So now the new orders are Naruto’s harem, Sasuki’s harem and the bachelor group with Putut as their leader.
A month had gone by and Jonathan was not seen so the ranger thought that he was most likely dead. One morning out of the blue Jonathan was seen coming out of the forest to platform A. He timed his coming out wisely by getting to the platform early, so that he would avoid meeting with the other harem-groups, especially Sasuki’s. So as soon as he saw the ranger arrived at the platform, he came near to him to asked for food. The ranger recognized Johnathan right away even though he is skinny, weak and had a bad wound on one of his legs. So the ranger gave him food and sprayed some medicine on his injured leg. This went on for weeks and eventually Johnathan became healthy and strong.
Because of this encounter Johnathan has changed, if one visits platform A these days, one can often see Johnathan sitting at the platform and munching his food in close human proximity. May be in debt to the ranger who helped him, he trusted human beings more. So after he was healed and became strong again he often came to the platform alone and did not mix with the other harems.
Lives went on at platform A without much change for months. Then the ranger noticed that some of the females from Sasuki’s harem seemed to have crossed over and followed Jonathan instead. There were four females and two young males to be exact. One of the young male was Jonathan’s son called Puncit, so named because he had a big stomach yet still very young. Buncit seemed to understand that Jonathan was his father and often seen following Jonathan around. Instead of looking for another fight with Jonathan, Sasuki seemed not to mind that some of the females from his harem had joined up with Jonathan. So this shows that primate knows how to share too. And from the ranger’s observation, Jonathan always followed Sasuki at the back, seemingly acknowledging that Sasuki was still the leader of the pack.
Naruto is an evil character in the eyes of human. He hates young males. He will kill them by biting them until they are dead. So far the rangers have seen two young males killed by him. Two other young males were saved by the group effort of the other Proboscis Monkeys. When these two gave out frantic call in distress when Naruto was biting them, the other leading males and also the bachelor group would bang their hands and looking at Naruto fiercely. Sensing that he was in danger, Naruto put down the young males and looked aggressively at the other leading males giving them warning as well. While this tense encounter was going on with the male-figures, the mothers of the young ones would slip in and fetch the young males away under Naruto’s nose. And the tense situation would slowly die out. What happened to the wounded child and the mother from Naruto’s harem, they just simply crossed over to Sasuki’s harem for better protection.
The ranger also noticed that the Proboscis Monkeys at Platform A is very protective among themselves. If outsiders from another forest come to challenge the leading males at Platform A, it is interesting to know that the leading male figures in Platform A which are Naruto, Sasuki, Johnathan, and even Putut and the bachelors will join force to fight the intruders and chase them away. So sometimes during the feeding period not all the groups will come out, some of them might have business of their own to settle with. May be away to defend their territory.
So this is the story of the next generation. Do pay a visit to the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary and see how these Proboscis Monkeys are getting on with life. Today the sanctuary supports about 160 Proboscis Monkeys in the wild. You may also be rewarded by taking a picture next to Jonathan, but do beware that he is still a wild animal. Donations are always welcome. Apart from donation, we can also do our part by making sure we have a government that knows the importance of preserving our forests, so that no more forest lands are turned into plantations. The Proboscis Monkey is an endangered species, we have to protect them from the poachers and also protect their habitats, the beautiful green rainforests.
Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary
Child* RM 30
MY Card Holder:
Adult RM 15
Child* RM 5
*(6 – 12 years old)
Platform A: 9:30 am & 2:30 pm
Platform B: 11:30 am & 4:30 pm
Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary
KM 31, Jalan Sps 3, Kg Sungai Tiram, Labuk Road, Sandakan.
tel: +6089 672 177 / +6089 674 133