Yesterday, 22.10.2014, our project and recent activities were introduced in a presentation on the 1. Tropical biodiversity conservation conference held in Prague.
The Philippine tarsier belongs to the least known nocturnal primates. Tarsiers and the Philippines remaining biodiversity and the ecosystems are under tremendous threats from the increasing human population. Habitat loss and illegal pet trade are the main reasons of tarsier population decrease. The Tarsius project team is involved in tarsier conservation since 2009 integrating research and conservation education. In 2010 we became involved in improving conditions of captive tarsiers abused as a tourist attraction on Bohol Island and in 2011 our suggestions for improvement were accepted and used by local authorities. Read more »
Our first tarsier – © M. Řeháková
As we have informed you last week our tarsier enclosure ad food resources were ready on my last visit in Bilar. Me and my colleague Cristy and our field assistants Alex and Filip could not wait until we finally get tarsiers in.
And here comes the good news. Yes, we finally have a tarsier!
Please meet Julius. He is a tarsier male, adult and quite big with his 150 g. And he is simply gorgeous as a tarsier can be with his huge eyes and a pixie look. He was captured in a secondary forest just on the border of a farm land in Bilar and as a first wild tarsier in our facility hopefully he will become a founder of our captive population. If you are interested in tarsiers you probably now that historically they did not survive well in captivity. They hardly survive and to breed them is even more difficult. Currently there is not facility in the whole world that can successfully breed tarsiers in captivity. We hope that in our enclosure imitating a natural environment (temperature, humidity, planting) and with natural food (breeding and catching of local insects and small vertebrates) we can be successful or at least add valuable information to the knowledge that we have now. Read more »
tarsier enclosure – photo Milada Řeháková
Recently I have come back from my last trip to the Philippines. The main purpose of this trip was to finalize developing of a breeding enclosure for tarsiers as a part of a complex tarsier conservation centre in Bilar on Bohol Island. As we believe starting of the breeding facility directly in the Philippines, in the local area, can eliminate some of the factors that could possibly lead to a failure of captive breeding in the past – e. g. stress during transport, climate and natural food. This project started in early 2012 after a new area for the project purpose was chosen. The property is owned by Wings of Serenity and is situated in barangay Subayon, Bilar, a very quiet three hectare area suitable for wildlife conservation. Within this area, preparations for the tarsier conservation centre facilities have started. It was first planned that the work should be finished within an earlier time frame but unfortunately the work was interrupted due to the recent earthquake that caused material, work-power and also financial damage and loss to the project. Therefore a longer period of time was spent on the preparations for getting the tarsiers into a professionally maintained centre. Read more »
Find an interview with Dr. Milada Řeháková on a primatological webpage:
“Each primate species has its own threats and heroes, and the tiny Philippine tarsier (Tarsius [Carlito] syrichta) it’s not an exception. In this case, the main threats, shared by almost all the species of the order, are the loss of habitat and illegal pet trade. To unveil what is being doing to protect it and how, we have interviewed Milada Řeháková, the young team leader of the Tarsius Project.”
Yesterday we have arrived to Bilar, the Tarsius project site and have met Cristy and the two volunteering guys Alex and Filip. Here you can read about experiences that a field assistant can have during fieldwork.
“My name is Alexander, a 27-year old, recently graduated ethologist from the northern part of Europe, namely the country of Sweden. After my graduation earlier this year, I was contemplating what path would lay ahead for me. It boiled down to two choices: search for a job in Sweden or to try travelling abroad as a volunteer. No need to tell you what choice I decided for. From the news that I was accepted as a voluntary field assistant in the Tarsier Project to me sitting here in the outskirts of the little community of Subayon, Bilar, and writing this reflection on my stay here after one and a half month, I can surely say that I haven’t regretted the decision to come here. Read more »
On Monday I am going back to Bohol, after two and half year. In the meantime my colleague Cristy and volunteer field assistants Alex and Filip work on building of the tarsier conservation centre. Keep the fingers crossed that everything goes as planned. We will be back with more news in September.
Another project field assistant, Elba, has left after spending six months with us. Elba liked to work with locals, was involved in workshops and created a book for local children that should help to educate them about tarsier conseration. Here is her story:
“All children like stories, and if with that story they learn about tarsier and become interested in caring for the environment, the goal is achieved!
“The life of the Tarsier Ani” is a children’s short story about a baby tarsier called Ani, who became a hero when saved his mom from a dangerous situation. Read more »
Recently, a seminar about handicrafts was held in the village of Subayon , Bilar-Bohol. Attended by a large number of local people of all ages, the workshop was about how to make dream catchers and other crafts made from common materials in the area such as coconut shell and bamboo. The workshop was held with the joy and
curiosity that characterizes people here. All materials were provided, so attendees could put into practice what they learned. It was very fun and rewarding, I was impressed by speed and good work of many attendees, an enviable talent!
The reason for this initiative is to provide an opportunity for the people of this town to make a profit by making crafts, which are currently beginning to be offered for sale in Habitat Conservation Center’s souvenir shop, in Bilar, while another part of the proceeds from the handicrafts goes towards the Tarsius Project: wildlife monitoring, habitat protection, behavioral studies and breeding center maintenance.
Also in April, during Easter, was organized in Habitat Conservation Center the Face -Painting activity, to take advantage the large number of tourists who visit the center at this time, and the money was allocated to Tarsius Project. The most popular face-painting designs: colorful butterflies, flowers, lizards, bats and many more. For my part: delighted, many different people to talk, it was a pleasure, I love to paint !
Text and photo: Elba Gonzalez Betancor – volunteer field assistant
Prof. Lovegrove and colleagues masured body temperatures of six mammalian species and compared them with temperature of the enviromnent. They revealed that small tropical mammals are especially vulnerable to climate change due to their physiology. Increasing temperature can lead to changed metabolism and it is especially risky when the animals cannot move to colder areas (e.g. on islands). The results of the study that included also data collected by M. Řeháková on free-ranging Philippine tarsiers were published recently in Physiological and Biochemical Zoology (Lovegrove B. G., Canale C., Levesque D., Fluch G., Řeháková-Petrů M., Ruf T. (2013) Are Tropical Small Mammals Physiologically Vulnerable to Arrhenius Effects and Climate Change?).
As a part of our current project activities we work on establishing of a breeding centre as a first centre focusing on conservation and research tarsier in the scientific way. It will serve as a basis for establishing a viable captive population of the Philippine tarsier. The area where the centre will be located was purchased by Bohol Habitat Conservation Centre (find more) and the previous farmland slowly turns into our conservation field station. The main steps towards our goal are preparation of the tarsier enclosure that needs to be build and well planted with local plants and ensuring the food supply, therefore we learn how to breed a variety of local insects, before we can get tarsiers.
We are very happy and gratelful that we found Sara Garau who volunteered for us for 9 month. She did an amzing job! How did she like it?
I have been back home in Italy for few months now, and if I think about the 9 months I spent in Bohol I can’t help picturing them like a videogame. No, I don’t play videogames, at least not those which require a console, but I feel like I’ve been inside one. With difficulties and challenges to overcome, but also with so many rewards and bloating self-esteem. Read more »