Endangered proboscis monkey immortalised in project to raise awareness of species decline

A proboscis monkey photographed at the Singapore Zoo.
A proboscis monkey photographed at the Singapore Zoo.PHOTO: NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC PHOTO ARK/JOEL SARTORE

SINGAPORE - With its glossy brown fur and long, pendulous nose, Cyrano the proboscis monkey cuts a striking figure in front of the camera.

Its haunting gaze sums up the threats faced by its species: proboscis monkeys are being driven to extinction when they are hunted for food and medicine, and when they are driven out of their homes in the coastal forests of Borneo, the only place in the world they can be found.

These monkeys are endangered in the wild. But last Thursday (June 9), Cyrano - one of the Singapore Zoo's 13 proboscis monkeys - was immortalised in a photograph that would tell future generations why they should pay more attention to the plight faced by its species.

Cyrano was being photographed by National Geographic Fellow and photographer Joel Sartore, who is on a mission to highlight the plight of various threatened species, even those that may not be as charismatic.

"Under Joel's lens, all of them are portrayed as equally worthy of our concerns and protection," said the Singapore Zoo in a statement on Monday (June 13), adding that the Singapore Zoo is the only place in the world where the animal can be seen under human care.

Cyrano was the 6,000th species to be photographed by Mr Sartore under the National Geographic Photo Ark, a project which aims to document 12,000 species of birds, fish, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates in all.

The picture of Cyrano marks the halfway point for the project. SPH Foundation is the sponsor for the SPH Foundation Conservation Centre and the proboscis monkeys at the Singapore Zoo.

During his 13-day stint in Singapore, Mr Sartore also photographed the critically endangered Singapore freshwater crab, black-winged starling and southern river terrapin. He took photographs of more than 150 animal species in all, at the zoo, the Jurong Bird Park, the Night Safari and the River Safari.

Those interested in viewing the images can do so at : http://nationalgeographic.org/projects/photo-ark/