RFI Siberut Island in the Mentawais

We are planning a trip to SE Asia this fall/winter and I am trying to find more information on seeing the Mentawai primates.  As far as I recall, there has never been a post on mammalwatching.com that mentions these species, which is rather surprising, as there are 5 species endemic to the islands.  While it seems easy to get a tour to see the natives on the island, I can’t seem to find much on the primates other than a mention of “monkey hunting” as a possible activity.  There used to be a German(?) research station on the north end of Siberut in Peleonan Forest.  Does anyone know if this still exists?  Or if it is currently possible to visit the area if it doesn’t?   I’m looking to do this more backpacker style than tour style.

Here’s a video on youtube that shows the area.


Thanks for any help,




  • Matthew Brady

    Hi Curtis. Several colleagues and I were on Siberut not that long ago (March, 2018). We were conducting research on birds at the southern end of the island. This is an area of active deforestation (we could hear multiple chainsaws at all times in an area where Google earth images show continuous forest…), but we heard very distant Gibbons several times. Locals suggested that it was possible to take a boat up the central river, deep into the interior of the island. This trip was projected to take 8 or 9 hours, but would take one to an area well away from active deforestation, where it would be more feasible to see primates. We, very unfortunately, did not have enough time to make the trip, so I can’t comment much beyond that it’s possible. One problem on Siberut is that apparently the indigenous people hunt primates, so they tend to be more shy than elsewhere. Other than hearing some Gibbons, we only saw one other mammal, a rather large native rat in the forest; probably something interesting, but too quick for photos. Here’s a sample checklist of birds we recorded: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S43489038. Very low diversity, and generally low abundance.

    Siberut is, fortunately, easy to get to from Padang. There’s a ferry terminal here: https://goo.gl/maps/FXxe39v4Jsm. The price is ~200,000 IDR, boats depart daily, and the trip takes about three and a half hours to the island, and then another hour and half traversing from the north end to the south end. On the way out we did see a Sperm Whale, so it’s worth scanning the mostly empty seas from the back deck (not that great for observation, and very loud). The Mentawai Islands are very popular with surfers, so there’s likely more information on surf websites.

    Best of luck,


  • Alex Schouten

    Hi Curtis.
    We are also planning a trip to Siberut (feb/march) with the focus on watching primates. And I agree with you, hardly any information to be found on the internet. I have just send an e-mail to the german reesearch station on the northern tip of the island with some questions.

    Do you have some more information already? And are you still planning to go to the islands for primate watching? Maybe we can help eachother with information.

    Best regards, Alex

  • Curtis Hart

    Hello, thanks for the responses. Due to some changes in work this year, I’m going to have to put it off another year at least. As of now, I have had little luck finding info other than what Matthew Brady provided. I have had a couple replies from various cultural guides, but it’s hard to tell how reliable they’ll be for primate watching.



  • Venkat Sankar

    James Eaton (Birdtour Asia) may be able to give you some advice. I recall seeing a trip report of his where he saw Siberut Flying Squirrel, Pig-tailed Langur, Kloss’s Gibbon, Mentawai Langur, etc. This paper of his (which details those observations) could be useful: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/274512940_Observations_of_Mentawai_Palm_Civet_Paradoxurus_hermaphroditus_lignicolor_from_Siberut_island_Indonesia

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