Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary
Dates: 22 Jul
Having seen orangutans at the Rehab Centre, I woke early again to head over to Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary. The Sanctuary is a little out of the way even from Sepilok, so I hopped on a motorbike rented from my accommodation and drove over there instead of opting to pay the crazy price for a taxi in Borneo.
It’s a good 30 minute drive from Sepilok area, and is really easy to find – there is a big sign on the main road telling you where to turn, and plenty of smaller ones on the side-road pointing you in the right direction.
As you approach the sanctuary you’ll notice you’re driving through masses of palm oil plantations, my least favourite thing in Malaysia – more on that further down the post.
The sanctuary has two viewing platforms labeled A and B. I started at B because I missed the first feeding slot for A. this worked out for the better anyway because platform B is way better than A. I saw many more Proboscis Monkeys at B, and also plenty of playful, brave Silver Leaf Monkeys too. These little guys really stole the show as I arrived, sat chilling on the platform, climbing on people, running around playing with each other – they also love a good selfie. The Proboscis Monkeys are a spectacle though, there are several families at the sanctuary so the alpha males often did displays of dominance running over the roof of the platform making loads of noise, and having a go at each other if they got too close to their family or bit of land. On top of the Proboscis & Silver Leaf Monkeys there are also lots of Oriental Pied Hornbills that live nearby, probably because they also get fed too.
Entrance to Labuk Bay is a hefty 60RM (~£12), plus another 10RM (~£2) for a camera fee. I feel this was semi worth it because of how much I got to see here, but again more on this below under the section “Mixed Feelings”.
Platform A – 9.30am & 2.30pm, with a video about the sanctuary at 10.15am
Platform B – 11.30am & 4.30pm, video at 3.15pm
I’ve mentioned a couple of times above about my mixed feelings for this place. It’s an incredible place to view monkeys & hornbills and is a great day out, but the reason the sanctuary is here is dreadful.
The video mentioned in the viewing times tells you all about the sanctuary and why it exists. To keep it short the owner of the sanctuary owns a huge patch of land and started to chop down the rainforest to plant palm oil plantations (a major issue in Malaysia, with locals valuing money over preserving rainforest and the natural habitat of wildlife).
During the video there was a section that showed a Proboscis Monkey taking some food that was left out next to an open window, and the workers chopping down their trees got annoyed at this (really? you leave food by a window in a jungle and expect monkeys to leave it alone?). Their response to this was to take a shotgun and go and shoot one of the monkeys – they even filmed this! When I saw this I was disgusted by the sanctuary.
The owner eventually saw sense and thought to himself “I should probably try and help these guys considering I’m chopping down their home and shooting them for pinching a bit of food”, and thus Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary was born – but you have to pay 2x the price of the Orangutans to visit, even though the owner is already making a fortune off his palm oil plantations.
To summarise, it’s a great place to visit to see monkeys up close but it’s very dubious on morals.