When Alpha males mate, Labuk bay’s adult education tour

by The Longest Way Home ~ November 7th, 2011. Published in: Travel blog » How to guides ... » Sabah (Malaysian Borneo).
Alpha Male and Female Proboscis monkey

Alpha Male and Female Proboscis monkey (click to enlarge)

How to get to Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary

“Labuk Bay, in Sabah, Malaysia: ‘It’s the only place in the world to see the Proboscis monkey'”

So wrote the author of the torn out pages of my guide-book. I think what they meant to say was that “Borneo” was the only place to see such a long-nosed sexually hyper active primate, I believe there are some in Sarawak too.

But this is where I’ve spent a lot of time in Sandakan, so let’s see.

To get to Labuk Bay is impossible without private transport, or at least staying out there is. This was the second thing I read in my guide-book.

Let me tell you now, you can.

I picked up the phone and called the Labuk Bay sanctuary.

Jungle walkway in Labuk

The swamp/ jungle walkways in Labuk Bay

No problem, 10 ringgit from Sandakan hotel at 9 am,” the polite man said.  “Then 10 ringgit back again at about 5pm, or you can stay here for longer if you want.”

How to get to Labuk Bay on a bus

Sure enough the mini bus appeared before the prearranged time. Omar got out and welcomed me with lots of apologies. Apparently he’d been there a while, but thought I was a guest of the Sandakan hotel.

“In truth, I was only standing in the entrance-way to the up-market hotel to take advantage of their WiFi that had no password.”

The journey took about an hour and Omar had given me the seat behind him. He was nice chap, and kept pointing out various bits of wildlife as we drove on by. At a small entrance gate we had to buy the 50 ringgit entrance ticket, plus 10 for a camera before heading off to the first of 4 feeding platforms.

I really would wish tourist places would stop with this extra charge for cameras. Tt looks stupid on your part.  Today, phones have 10MP+ cameras, HD video etc.  Just be done with it, up the price, and drop the extras.

Is Labuk Bay better than Sepilok … oh yes …

Well in terms of a wow, large primate factor, no. But in terms of how it’s run on a daily basis, friendly, knowledgeable staff etc, yes. More on this later in the week.

Much like the Orangutans in Sepilok the Proboscis Monkeys were a good 30 feet back from the small crowd of tourists. The alpha male was just about distinguishable with his bright triangle stripped back, elongated rubbery nose and what seemed like a permanent erection.

The star of the show is the alpha male proboscis monkey

Labuk Bay Proboscis monkey sanctuary

It's an Alpha Male's life for this Proboscis monkey on "his" feeding platform (click to enlarge)

First feeding over, back into the mini van and we were all shuttled off to the next feeding platform. Down a dirt road, twisting and turning we were there within 10 minutes.

A long wooden walkway meandered over a swampy mangrove area. This alone was longer and slightly more interesting than Sepilok’s offering. Moreover, everything was administered a lot better.

A huge open area wooden platform was our new area to view the feeding.

This time the Proboscis Monkey’s put on a show.

The Alpha male was having one of his wives courted away by an up and coming male contender. A very similar plot to what the main bus video we had been shown earlier described. Omar confirmed the soap opera drama.

The life of an Alpha Male Proboscis Monkey

“They eat, and have much play time,” Omar said pointing to the Alpha male just as he began some procreation with one of his wives.

The Alpha Male seemed more interested in showing off his recreational abilities to others than to his wife. Not that I watch a lot of animals mate. But, I have had glimpses from the discovery channel. The alpha male might also have watched the odd x-rated movie it seemed.

The drama unfolds …

Almost as if posing for a film shoot, the alpha male had all the rhythm and showboating style of  “movie” star in the making. Then, as if on cue, another female crashed down with authority from the branches above … Looks like his co-star wasn’t his wife after all …

Coming soon:

Up close with an Alpha Male Proboscis monkey

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18 Great responses to When Alpha males mate, Labuk bay’s adult education tour

  1. Samuel says:

    Is there a reason why you didn’t take a photo of them mating?

  2. Julie Ann says:

    Adorable and strange! If you’re on a tight schedule, can you still see both Orangutans and Proboscis Monkeys on the same day?

  3. Great post! I can confirm Labuk is definitely not the only place to see Proboscis Monkeys – I saw them in both Sabah and Sarawak. My favorite spot was at Bako National Park where they’re everywhere and you can see them in their own habitat. Here’s my photography and full post on them:

  4. hayadith says:

    nice!..this type of monkey always remind me of Pinochio, i don’t know why..:p

  5. Anna's World says:

    I’ve never seen something like this. So unusual. Any idea why they have noses like that?

  6. Jason says:

    I knew exactly where you were heading with your teaser in your previous post. I also enjoyed my time at the Proboscis sanctuary, a bit more than that of the Sepilok Orangutan reserve. I suppose it could have been due to getting their late in the afternoon with no one else around as we were driving out own vehicle.

    I didn’t get quite the show you seem to have got though, but the big fella was ever present all the same. It’s worth the effort of getting out to see this place, I do recommend it to anyone traveling in the region.

    This may seem an odd question but you didn’t happen to run into a crazy pet otter that lives at the site by any chance ???

    • Ha ha, well there’s another one coming up later in the week.

      It’s interesting to note that many people seem to like Labuk Bay over Sepilok! And, I don’t think it has anything to do with Orangutans vs Proboscis monkeys. Just simply to do with how the places are run.

      I’m writing something up about that as we speak.

      No crazy pet otters that I could see. Rumors of a bad tempered crocodile have plagued the area lately. But I’ve not seen one.

  7. Nice pictures and very inspiring. I have heard of this place before, but didn’t know these species existed there. I think even rainforests are a great place to explore in Malaysia and the government seems to give lot of consideration in preserving these old species.

  8. Ivy says:

    Very interesting … Are there wild species that actually live in freedom without the help of humans where you are?

    • The lines are crossing Ivy. It’s getting harder to tell. Many Orangutan live on land that’s been bought for them. They live wild. But an increasing number of “private” tours and the live are encroaching deeper into the forests to see them.

      Likewise there are many smaller animals that have adapted around humankind. And pop up in the towns etc.

      It’s hard to answer. The reality is yes, but I don’t know for how much longer.

  9. Nadia says:

    reading about your visit, i am keen to go too.
    i tried a few times to get in touch via email. but they do not respond.
    how did you get in touch with them. can you share the contact details. would be great.
    cant wait to go!