Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary located approximately 20-30 minutes from Sepilok and 45 minutes from Sandakan City is a sanctuary for preserving Proboscis Monkey. The increasing plantation of Palm Oil Tree in Borneo is endangered many species. One of such species of Monkey is Proboscis Monkey. They are also called Long Nose Monkey due to the big size of their nose. In older days, they were also named Dutch Monkey due to their facial resemblance to Dutch people.
When the population of Proboscis monkey was decreasing, a person (rich person) in Sepilok who owned a land for palm oil plantation decided to give it away for the protection of this species. The land later converted into the Sanctuary with planting the right kind of trees which support the environment condition for the monkey. Along with plantation and creating a separate forest for Proboscis monkey to live their life in peace, the sanctuary also offers food to the monkey (twice a day so that they don't have to starve in case of unavailability of food).
As our car moved towards the Labuk Bay Sanctuary, the entire road was surrounded by Palm Tree plantation. Although the road was scenic, but the thought of animals being endangered due to plantation is scary. The best time to visit the Labuk Bay Sanctuary is during feeding time as chances of spotting is 100% unlike other time when it can vary based on monkey's mood. Feeding happens twice a day on two different platforms. We decided to go for the evening feeding. Surprisingly, there were very less people, which was good as we got endless time to click pictures of Proboscis Monkey from all angles possible.
We reached 15 minutes before the feeding and as we entered we can see that Proboscis Monkey along with Silver Leaf Monkey were ready to be fed. Silver Leaf Monkey aka Silver Lutung are another species of money found only in Borneo and Sumatra. They are black and gray in Color giving them silver appearance, hence the name. Silver Leaf Monkey prefers to be in a group, so when we reached the feeding platform, I saw them in so many numbers together. Initially I was little scared to enter the feeding area, but after observing them for a few minutes, I realised that these are well behaved monkey and won't harm us if we are little close to them. Unlike Silver Leaf, Proboscis Monkeys were very quiet and lazy. They hardly move from their place and looked as if they are hardly bothered with anything or anyone. Even with their good behaviour, you can never predict what they will do next so it's always better to be careful of your belonging near them. Especially with the little monkeys running around and playing, they can be more dangerous than their parents or elders.
As the food came in the time specified, all monkeys from each and every corner of the sanctuary came to have a bite. Every one took a piece and started eating at their pace, hardly anyone fought with other monkey for food (though there was one mean monkey who picked up the maximum amount of food). Within 15 minutes entire food was over cleaned and the monkeys started relaxing to digest their food.
Earlier I thought the entire trip won't take more than 1 hour's time, surprisingly, we spent more than 1 hour watching the feeding session and stayed till single monkey left the platform after filling their stomachs. Watching them wait for food, be excited when it arrived, eat till your stomach is happy and then spend some time at leisure before heading off in forest to spend the rest of the time hanging from one tree to another.
Even if you are not animal or monkey lover, you will enjoy the scene and the way everyone of them behaves. A good place to be up and close with Proboscis Monkey and Silver Leaf Monkey. For a wildlife photographer, it is a place to take exciting pictures of the monkey and if you are lucky, you will also spot the Hornbill Bird.