Mar 25, 2011

Up Close at the Philippine Tarsier

The Philippine Tarsier is a shy nocturnal animal that leads a mostly hidden life and are normally only active during the night to hunt for food (mainly insects). Known locally as the Maumag in Visayan and Mamag in Luzon with the scientific name or Latin name is Tarsius Syrichta. Have brownie grey fur and a bald tale which is about twice as long as its body. It is one of the smallest known primates and is believed to be about 45 million years old as a species.

The Tarsier species is considered endangered, with a decreasing habitat due to deforestation and the fact that it does not take to well to captivity, the management of the survival of the Philippine Tarsier is as important as ever.

The Philippine Tarsier Foundation

The Philippine Tarsier Foundation Inc. was established in 1996 to conserve, promote, research and establish a sanctuary for the Philippine Tarsier. By doing so the foundation is attempting to bring tourism in an eco friendly way to the Philippine Tarsier.

For the past 45 million years, tarsiers have inhabited rainforests around the world, but now they only exist on a few islands in the Philippines, Borneo and Indonesia. In Bohol, the Philippine Tarsier was a common sight in the southern part of the island until the 1960's. Once protected by the humid rainforests and mist-shrouded hills, these mysterious primates struggle to survive as their home is cleared for crop growing and poaching.

To date, the Philippine Tarsier Foundation has acquired 7.4 hectares of land in Corella, Bohol for a Tarsier sanctuary. With the Department of Environment and Natural Resources playing an oversight role, the foundation has asked other Bohol towns with Philippines Tarsier populations to donate 20 hectares (49.4 acres) of forestland for conservation.

It also runs a Tarsier Research and Development Center, which serves as a visitor center and venue for research, as well as a habitat preserve. At the sanctuary, a spacious net enclosure keeps a number of Philippine Tarsiers for feeding, captive breeding and display. Here, visitors can observe the Philippine Tarsier in their natural habitat. Within the sanctuary, the Philippine Tarsiers roam freely and all of them have got used to a seven-foot high fence that circumscribes the territory and which serves mainly to protect them from predators like feral cats while maintaining a theoretical chance for tarsiers to leave the enclosure and return as their wish.

Do not visit the caged Tarsiers which are elsewhere on the island (especially in Loboc). These are kept in insufficient conditions and often die of stress from the visitors and poor care. Dead animals are frequently replaced by new one illegally captured from the while creating a high stress on the yet surviving population.

Photos are courtesy of LeeWay.

1 comment:

  1. I had been to Bohol and one of our activity was visiting a tarsier. Actually Manong Driver brought us to a residential area where there are tarsiers in their garden, tarsiers were not cage but just hanging in plants or trees. Dont know if thats legal or what. Anyways, I know tarsier is suicidal when under stress :(


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