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Monkeys and Apes
Malaysia has seven species of primates, all diurnal and generally noisy and conspicuous. These monkeys and apes feed mainly on the seeds and leaves of forest trees, lianas and legumes. The adult Silvered Leaf monkey is the colour of steel wool while the babies are a brilliant orange. The Dusky Leaf or the Banded Leaf monkey can be seen around Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya. Both species are abundant in many areas, but are particularly conspicuous in the Kerau Wildlife Reserve, Pahang.
The Orang Utan (Pongo pygmaeu) is a protected species in Malaysia.
In Sarawak, one encounters a close relative of the Banded Leaf monkey. Those found in the Samunsam Wildlife Sanctuary are almost entirely black, while those in northern Sarawak are a mixture of reddish-brown, black and white. The Red Leaf monkey of Sabah is often confused with the orangutan due to the similarity in colouring. However, the main distinguishing factor is that monkeys have tails while the orangutans do not.
The handsome grey-and-white Grey Leaf monkey which prevails in Sarawak and the Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Sabah is more often than not detected by the mystifying bizarre gurgling call of the adult male animal. In the Danum Valley and Tawau Hills Park of southeastern Sabah, the forest traveller finds the Creamy-white Leaf monkey, and in the Lanjak-Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary and the interior of Sarawak the White-fronted Leaf monkey, which is the least known among the species.
The Proboscis monkey, closely related to the Leaf monkeys, is a unique creature found only on the island of Borneo. The adult male weighs over 20 kilogrammes and has a large, pendulus nose, while the adult female is half the size and has a small snub nose.
The Pig-tailed and the Long-tailed Macaque monkeys are much less attractive and are regarded as serious pests in plantations and rural gardens. The former inhabit hill forests while the latter, much more adaptable, are commonly seen on the fringes of towns, villages, cultivated areas and forests. In Kelantan and Terengganu, captive young male Pig-tailed Macaques are trained to pick coconuts. The Long-tailed Macaque is also known as the Crab-eating Macaque as those inhabiting coastal areas feed mostly on crabs and marine organisms.
The small agile gibbons are widespread throughout Malaysia. The high-pitched songs of the female gibbon is one of the most familiar sound in the Malaysian dipterocarp forests. They live in monogamous family units “ father, mother and offspring “ with the parent animals generally pairing for life. The totally black Siamang is found only in the hill ranges of central Peninsular Malaysia. Many who have seen the creature in its natural habitat claim that it is one of the most memorable sights and sounds of the forest.
Orangutan, literally 'forest person' in Malay, is considered the most intelligent land mammal after human beings, but is the least social of the primate family. They are normally very quiet and difficult to spot in the wild. Once thought to inhabit the tall, extensive dipterocarp forests, recent studies have shown that they occur most abundantly in swamps and coastal forests and along riverbanks.