The Island in the clouds of Borneo, located in Malaysia stands the highest peak. The Mountain called Kinabalu raises high into the sky. The climate is generally hot, wet and more rain than not. Borneo has the most diverse flora in the world. Compared to North America’s 171 native trees species, Borneo has over 700 different species of trees. Borneo is the third largest island in the world and the home of unusual animals such as the Proboscis Monkey. Since Borneo has remained isolated from the rest of the world many native tribes still live like they did a millennium ago.
The proboscis monkey has a very large nose much larger than the female. He has a long coat of reddish brown fur. The face is orange-pink. The male has a red penis and a black scrotum. The male and the female have oversized stomachs looking like a pot belly. They also have many webbed toes.
The rainforest of Borneo is the home of Mortus the Proboscis monkey and his family. Mortus loves the swamp forest, the tall tropical heath forest and the steep cliffs. He loves to stay near the water for he loves to swim. He is a good swimmer and can completely submerge himself under the water for a great while.
“Mortus you are going to break something leaping from those high branches and into the water like that.” Petra his wife called as she watched her mate splash into the water. She was sitting on a tree limb high above the water. “I can’t seem to do as well as you do. I get water in my nose. I just can’t stand getting water in my nose!” She continued.
“I must get busy and gather up some food. I really want to get the fruit before it gets ripe. I want to gather some flower seeds to go with the insects I have already. I am going to work today while the weather is good and then rest later. We must keep vigilant because there is lots of beast out here who would love to have us for dinner. Do you hear me Mortus?” She rattled.
“I know about the crocodiles, the leopards, the eagles, the lizards and the pythons. Long before it gets dark I will be back save in my tree nest. I do not plan to be dinner for any of them. Stop worrying so much. Just get the food ready because I’m working up one big appetite.” He honked.
“I can see now why most males stay together in a band. We get so tired of the honking of the females. It is just much more peaceful without those hacking females around.” Mortus mumbled as he joined several other males in the water.
The females had an unusual “female call” if they were agitated. Males also emitted an alarm call to signal danger. All times of the day the honks, roars and snarls can be heard from the bands of males and females. Non-vocal displays include leaping-branch shaking, bare-teeth open mouth threats and the erect penis of males, made during agonistic encounters. Although there were many displays of threats aggression was usually kept at a minimum.
“I hope Mortus is aware that I am going to have babies soon. I’m five years old now and the playful games are over for a while. It may be about 200 days before my babies come but I want to be ready. I’m talking to all the other females so I’ll know exactly what to do when the time comes.” Petra said aloud hoping all ears were listening.
“Well babies tend to be born at night or in the early morning. You will have to eat the placenta and lick the infant clean.” Lorna called back from a distant limb. You will have to feed them until they are about six weeks and wean them at about 7 months. We will be happy to help you when the time comes. I’m good at holding babies. They are so cute and cuddling. I enjoy them while they are little because when they grow up they can be a pain in the rump!” She honked.
“I’ve heard other males will kill babies so I want to learn all I can so I can be the best mother I can be.” Petra answered. “Males can be so brutal!”
As night fell upon the rain forest the sounds of the crocodiles slithering along the ground could be heard. The pythons lay in wait watching for a sudden movement. The eagles watched from high above the trees with a keen eye hoping to see an infant they could snatch in an instant. The leopard’s noses sniffed out every nook and cranny for the smell of fresh meat.
Mortus and Petra curled up in their nest high up in the trees away from the floor of the jungle. As they closed their eyes to sleep Petra whispered.
“Goodnight my sweet prince. It won’t be long until you are a father so we need to spend as much time together now as we can.” She curled around Mortus and gave him a tight squeeze with her long arms.
Tomorrow would be another day and life would continue in the cycle of life in Borneo for the Proboseis monkeys.
Question: What is the odd feature about the Proboscis monkey?
Written by Sybil Shearin
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