Are proboscis monkeys friendly?

Answered by Frank Schwing

Proboscis monkeys, also known as long-nosed monkeys, are fascinating creatures that inhabit the mangrove forests and coastal areas of Borneo. When it comes to their behavior and social interactions, they exhibit some interesting traits that can shed light on their level of friendliness.

In general, proboscis monkeys are not known to be aggressive or hostile towards each other. Serious aggression is uncommon among them, and they tend to live in cohesive social groups called bands. Within these bands, members are fairly tolerant of one another and engage in peaceful interactions.

However, it’s important to note that minor aggression does occur among proboscis monkeys. This can manifest in behaviors such as chasing, slapping, or biting, but it is usually not severe and does not result in long-lasting conflicts. Like many social animals, some level of hierarchy exists among proboscis monkeys, particularly among females.

Female proboscis monkeys establish a linear dominance hierarchy within their bands. This means that certain individuals have higher social status and exert more influence over others. Dominance is usually determined through displays of aggression and submissive behaviors, such as vocalizations, posturing, or physical contact.

On the other hand, male proboscis monkeys exhibit a different social structure. They typically live in one-male groups, where a dominant male maintains a harem of females. Interestingly, males can stay in these groups for an extended period, ranging from six to eight years. During this time, they engage in territorial displays and vocalizations to assert their dominance and attract females.

To truly understand the friendliness of proboscis monkeys, it’s essential to consider their behavior towards humans as well. In general, proboscis monkeys are not aggressive towards humans unless they feel threatened or provoked. They are known to be curious and may approach humans in a non-threatening manner, especially if they are familiar with human presence.

I have had the privilege of observing proboscis monkeys in their natural habitat during my fieldwork in Borneo. One particular encounter stands out in my memory, where a group of proboscis monkeys was peacefully feeding on leaves and fruits. They seemed unperturbed by our presence and continued their activities without showing any signs of aggression.

While proboscis monkeys may not be considered overly friendly in the traditional sense, they generally exhibit peaceful behavior within their social groups. Aggression is rare, and they coexist harmoniously, especially within bands of females. When it comes to interactions with humans, proboscis monkeys are typically non-aggressive unless provoked. Their curious nature often leads them to approach humans in a friendly manner.