BANJARMASIN: With a huge nose and reddish-brown skin, the proboscis monkey is not everyone’s favourite animal.
But Indonesian Amalia Rezeki, conservationist and founder of the friends of proboscis monkey voluntary group, has made it her mission to save the endemic species.
The proboscis monkey is native to Borneo and scattered throughout all five of Indonesia’s provinces on the island it calls Kalimantan.
However, it is in South Kalimantan, whose provincial mascot is the proboscis monkey, where the animals could in the past be found in large numbers. They thrived around the mangroves, swamps and coastal forests.
While there are several conservation centres for endangered animals in South Kalimantan, they mostly take care of other animals like orangutans, said Rezeki.
“That is why we are focusing on the proboscis monkeys, and also because I am a native of South Kalimantan,” she told CNA.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species, the proboscis monkey is classified as endangered.
Its population has decreased by more than 50 per cent in the past 50 years due to ongoing habitat loss and hunting.
It is estimated there are less than 20,000 proboscis monkeys in the world, surviving mainly on leaves, mangroves and seeds.
According to Rezeki, there were only about 3,200 proboscis monkeys in South Kalimantan two years ago, compared to about 5,000 in 2013.
Concerned with the monkey’s declining numbers, she founded the volunteer group Sahabat Bekantan Indonesia (SBI) in 2013 while studying biology for her master’s degree.
Sahabat Bekantan means friends of proboscis monkeys. Bekantan is the Indonesian name for the primate.
SBI’s goal is to save proboscis monkeys from going extinct.
“It is our responsibility as citizens. We know there are many foreigners in NGOs (Non-governmental organisations helping in the conservation efforts).
However, it is our (Indonesia’s) biodiversity, so we should do something,” said Rezeki.