Testosterone Prevails at Labuk Bay

or A Little Scare Goes a Long Way

(this is a Part 1 of 2 posts about Labuk Bay and some wildlife adventures.)

Labuk Bay

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Jim and I love to do anything related to wildlife.  This was true before we lived in Alaska, but after eight years of living with some big and dangerous animals in our backyard, we seek out animal encounters or safaris wherever we.  So when we went to Australia, Africa, and most recently Southeast Asia, we got out where we’d see animals, especially primates…like those adorable orangutans!

Labuk Bay

In this case, we decided to pay to go to a proboscis monkey sanctuary called Labuk Bay.  As many privately owned animal sanctuaries are, it was a little pricier for a day pass than just down the road at the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre.   We waffled, but the draw of wild animals convinced us to splurge.  We had already been lucky enough to see them when driving through the palm plantations that take over the entire northeastern part of the island of Borneo, but proboscis monkeys are shy animals and stayed too far away for us to get any photos or see them very well.

Labuk Bay

At Labuk Bay, there are four feedings per day at two different viewing areas.  We like to go as early as possible, so we planned on attending the first and second feedings and then deciding whether or not we wanted to do more.

Labuk Bay

The first feeding, at platform A, was at 9:30.  We arrived a few minutes early, and there was only one other vehicle in the parking area, which looked like it belonged to the sanctuary.  We were hoping that we would remain the only visitors, but of course we weren’t.  However, there were only about ten people that morning, so there was plenty of room.

Labuk Bay

The first troop of monkeys was already there when we arrived.  It was a bachelor group of about 25 or so.  They regarded us warily, and one even snarled at my camera, but overall they were just waiting for the fruits to be delivered to the feed platform.

Labuk Bay

The two workers promptly emptied their basket of bananas and bread right on time and the bachelor group swung in and feasted, but not for too long.  About 9:45, we noticed a new troop making their way to the platform.  This was a harem group with one huge dominant male to lead them.  They seemed to have established a set path, and every one of them took it.  We watched while they deftly jumped from tree to tree and finally down on the platform.  I’m not sure how the bachelors knew they were coming, but they did not want to be in the way.

Labuk Bay

The first group decided to move out of the way, grabbed some food to go and crossed the walkway to hang out in some trees to the rear of us.  They occasionally hooted or grunted or howled, and a few of them would come closer to taunt the other male and then retreat.

Labuk Bay

 

Now, we’ve had some very interesting close calls with nature, and they are always a little unnerving to say the least.  I like to call them “National Geographic” moments, and we were just about to experience another one.

Jim, Devon, and I were sitting on the bench facing the feeding platform mainly so I could prop up my camera and mega-lens.  Now there are monkeys all around us, even a few traversing our platform.  One of the bachelors must have gotten too close, and the dominant male from the other group let out a loud, booming, nasally howl, came bounding toward us, right towards us, so fast that there was no way for us to react.  It took him only seconds to cross the 25 feet or so.  He wasn’t after us, but the three of us were directly between him and his tormentor.  He brushed us with his hand as he passed by.  He practically landed on my lap.  He chased the bachelor, pounding on the wooden boards with all four of his hands and feet.  He slapped and grunted making a huge show out of being boss.  It sure did get my heart pumping, let me tell you! (Jim did get a video of another time he did this.  It’s certainly not great quality, but gives you an idea on how disconcerting the noise and show can be…especially when you are clearly in the path!)

If you liked Part I, then click on the link for Part II where we meet some tutfed cuties!

Have you been to Sabah? Did you see the proboscis monkeys? Have you been to Labuk Bay? Please tell us about your experiences in the comment section!

Testosterone Prevails at Labuk Bay

10 Comments

  1. Wow, I can imagine that with him headed straight at you. I am surprised they let the bachelors eat first! I love the detail in the (last) close up photo. I have been tossing up going there as they say they, or the Orangatan may be extinct soon. From looking at your photos I would say the extra cost was well worth it.

  2. Ya know, Corinne and Jim, what has always boggled my mind. Is how swiftly and safely the mom’s can swing through the trees and branches with the baby securely attached. How they do that is amazing! 🙂

  3. Great photos and video! This is exactly the experience that I was hoping for in Sarawak, but we weren’t as lucky since we were trying to just find proboscis monkeys in the wild. I haven’t been to Sabah, yet, and this makes a visit there seem very enticing.

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