KUNDASANG: The appearance of ‘Maragang’ or red leaf monkey on Mount Kinabalu is a sight to behold, especially when the mountain is less crowded.
Their presence was noticed by the Sutera Sanctuary Lodge staff from the Laban Rata rest house yesterday morning.
It got Freddie Jude Julani excited and he wasted no time grabbing his binoculars and camera to capture the rare sight.
“I was at Laban Rata Restaurant and one of my staff alerted me that they spotted Maragang monkeys at the forest.
“After a while, he saw them again and alerted me. It took some time to adjust my binoculars and camera to take the pictures,” he told New Straits Times, today.
Freddie said it was his first time seeing the Maragangs and that he spotted them at 9.47am among the trees at a distance.
“At first there were only two Maragangs and they actually moved to another tree. Then, I saw four of them. I couldn’t take clear photos due to the distance,” he said.
Freddie also reported the sighting to the Sabah Parks management.
His photos were then shared on Facebook, which created excitement among netizens.
Some believe the monkeys are coming out because there was less movement of people on the mountain.
Kinabalu Park staff said they had spotted Maragangs last year and tat mountain guides had also seen them at the Layang-Layang point some years ago.
Sabah Parks director Maklarin Lakim said the Maragangs have been spotted along the climbing route leading to Sayat-Sayat point ever since the 1970s.
Maklarin, who did a study and published a book about Maragangs, said this species of monkey was endemic to Borneo island.
“They can live on high and low lands. So, Mount Kinabalu is part of their habitat because there is plenty of food for them.
“On the mountain, there are many oak trees. These monkeys feed on nuts from the oak trees and also certain plants on the higher ground,” he said.
Maklarin was stationed at Kinabalu Park from 1994-2007, where he conducted research on Maragangs from 1996-2005.
His book entitled ‘Lotong Merah: Primat Ekslusif Borneo’ was published in 2015.
Maklarin also noted there was evidence the red leaf monkey had travelled up to the KM8 marker.
“They were sighted at the Rock Face area (KM8) and I had also collected bone specimens found at the Sayat-Sayat point,” he said.
Although the population of Maragangs is not known, he said Sabah Parks remained committed in carrying out flora and fauna studies at protected areas under their care.
Apart from Mount Kinabalu, Maklarin said Maragangs could be found in Tawau, Sukau, Sepilok, and the Crocker Range.
Meanwhile, Sabah Wildlife assistant director Dr Sen Nathan said Maragangs are listed under Schedule 2 of the protected species in Sabah.
He said the Maragangs are also called Red Langur and Maroon Langoor.
“It’s incredible that they are found at Panalaban. To me, it’s quite rare to see these Maroon Langur (at Panalaban),” he said.
By : Avila Geraldine – NST