Photo: Go a little into the heart of Borneo.

Proboscis monkeys and fireflies tour

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While you are in Sabah, you will probably plan to visit some of wildlife areas where proboscis monkeys spend their days, such as the popular Kinabatangan region near Sandakan. However, if you are just on a quick visit to Kota Kinabalu, it’s still possible to see them on a day tour, just a couple of hours outside of town.





Proboscis monkeys (nasalis larvatus) are endemic to Borneo. They are one of the largest monkey species native to Asia and are listed as endangered due to the decline of their mangrove forest habitat. Known for the males’ distinctive large nose, which hangs below its mouth (and a small pointy one for females), they have an orange and white coat, a rather large pot-belly and the mature males have a permanently erect bright red penis. All of these have given them the local name of monyet Belanda (Dutch monkey) with reference to Borneo’s colonial past (or possibly some modern-day tourists).

Just monkeying around. Photo taken in or around Proboscis monkeys and fireflies tour, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia by Sally Arnold.

Just monkeying around. Photo: Sally Arnold

Proboscis monkeys live in large groups with one dominant male and a harem of females, usually followed closely by individual or groups of males. They become action monkeys at dusk and dawn, but for the rest of the time, are difficult to see.

It’s also possible to see fireflies as well as the monkeys on a trip from Kota Kinabalu. Of the thousands of firefly species in the world, five are recorded to be found in Sabah. The firefly is actually a beetle, and the Sabah species live in mangrove forests, seeming to prefer the berembang tree or crabapple mangrove (sonneratia caseolaris). As darkness descends, they flash in unison to create a wondrous Christmas tree-like phenomenon.

Just monkeying around. Photo taken in or around Proboscis monkeys and fireflies tour, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia by Sally Arnold.

Just monkeying around. Photo: Sally Arnold

Tours to view both the monkeys and fireflies are available departing Kota Kinabalu late afternoon to several areas: the Kilas and Garama Rivers, both near Beaufort south of Kota Kinabalu, and the Kawa Kawa/Nanamun area near Kota Belud, north of ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


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Where to next?

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