At the beginning of April Czech embassy officials visited Bohol Island. Here ambassador Jaroslav Olša with Jan Vytopil after a debate with Edgar M. Chatto, Governor of Province of Bohol and his team. Tarsius Project was also discussed. We are grateful for a longterm favour of the governor and our embassy!
Dinagat bushy-tailed cloud rat – photo by Milada Řeháková
A Dinagat bushy-tailed cloud rat, belonging to the biggest rodents of the world, is endemic to only one tiny island of the world – Dinagat Island, Philippines. This species was captured only once in the history, in 1975. It belongs to critically endangered species, and was even feared to be extinct until early 2012, when it was observed and video recorded by a scientific couple from Czech Republic. This success help to start conservation activities focused on this and other endangered species. In December 2016 czech-filipino expedition focused on mapping and establishing of protected areas on Dinagat Island where no protected areas exist so far. The cloud rat was recorded again after almost five years as well as another rare species, Dinagat Gymnure or Philippine tarsier.
The Environment Secretary Gina Lopez recently announced closing of mining operations because of mining in watershed areas, which is a burning issue especially on Dinagat Island. Read more »
Dinagat cloud rat – by William Oliver
Winter is coming so it is the best time to go to tropics again. The main target of this expedition is not Bohol Island as usual (of course we will stop there as well to see how are our tarsiers and our colleagues doing) but mainly we will focus on Dinagat Island. For the first time we went to Dinagat in 2009 with my colleague Lubomír Peške searching for a unique Dinagat tarsier. Distinct Dinagat tarsier (sub)species was later on described by an American zoologist and his team. In 2012 we went there again and this expedition was super-successful. Me and my husband have rediscovered a Dinagat bushy-tailed cloud rat which wasn´t seen for 37 years. (e.g. you can read more here..)
Philippine belongs to the world´s biodiversity hotspots. Read more »
Past weeks entailed efforts towards delineation of possible directions of development of the Tarsius Project. Since April we had been discussing with the University of San Carlos in Cebu City, which is one of the most renowned higher education institution in Visayas and in the Philippines. Staff of their Department of Biology make efforts to educate young naturalists pursuing Bachelor, Master and Ph.D. degrees in three disciplines: Biology, Marine Biology and Environmental Sciences. To increase Department’s capacity, researchers from USC have been keen to collaborate with us on different levels. Consensus has been reached and on 24th September 2016 the document of mutual agreement was signed. Collaboration will be conducted in research, education, community outreach, allowing students to be involved in our activities. One of the Project aims, building local capacity is thus coming true. Read more »
Since travelling among countries is becoming more and more available, young people from all over the world are seeking opportunities to help different organizations, foundations and projects as much as they can. One of those groups approached us with their willingness and hands to help. This was the first inquiry of this kind in the history of the Project, but how could we say no? :)
The group of 15 international volunteers (From Europe, North and South America), came to Bohol for two weeks in order to help creating a playground in a municipality near Bilar. After discussing details, they also decided to help us. These young and motivated people paid us a visit on 25 th July. With the very diverse background they were not involved in a direct work with animals, but greatly helped with small projects enhancing our breeding center capacity. Read more »
The idea which was growing long time in the heads of the Project staff finally came true. The Tarsius Project is educating again! This time we went a little bit further. After the success of the programmes for elementary schools and teachers, the program for the high schools was developed. We titled it “Who wants to be a conservationist?” because this time we extended material, not only covering tarsiers, but ecosystems of Bohol as a whole.
It took some time before the idea became the activity. In order to establish good collaboration with Department of Education, Division of Bohol, the Project staff went through all of the steps on the bureaucratic ladder. As a result of our efforts, Filip, our field manager, gave presentation to the highest official of the Department of Education Office in Tagbilaran on 24th May. All of our programmes met with very positive feedback and we were granted official support from this governmental office to conduct our educational activities in Bilar. Read more »
at the Czech embassy in Manila after signing the contract
We have a good news from the Philippines – the reconstruction of the tarsier breedig enclosure has started. As we have informed you our activities for this year have beed supported by the Ministry of foreign affairs as a part of development cooperation. The contract was signed at the beginning of May at the Czech embassy in Manila, where the ambassador Jaroslav Olša, counsellor Jan Vytopil, the Habitat Bohol conservation centre founder Cristy Burlace and Tarsius project leader Milada Řeháková were present.
The breeding enclosure, where our first tarsier par lives, was built between 2012-2014. However, the nylon net that covers the enclosure appeared to be insufficient. The enclosure needs to be covered with wire mesh and metal sheets to prevent entering of the predators that can hurt the tarsiers or eat their food. The reconstruction has been funded by the mentioned grant. After that we will be able to get a second breeding female. Apart form the reconstruction the grant will support our educational activities because work with the local community, especially kids and teachers, is very important.
We succeeded to establish a conservation centre for the Philippine tarsier in Bilar, Bohol Island, with a huge effort of all people involved and a substantial support of some international organizations. A breeding enclosure is a part of this centre. Philippine tarsier have not been successfully kept and bred in zoos so far. Considering that the wild population is still declining we have attempted to establish a backup breeding colony group in our centre. We got our first pair of tarsiers, male Julius in 2014 and female Nina in 2015. They both do well and seems that are comfortable in our centre which itself is quite a success because tarsiers die very quickly in unsuitable conditions. Breeding of tarsiers is seasonal and it occurs around October. Therefore our animals were joined together at that time. Everything went fine and we observed them mating twice. Nina let us wait for quite a long time. Her pregnancy was revealed during regular weight check at the beginning of this year when she started gaining weight. We were closer to long awaited moment when the first tarsier will be born in our centre. Read more »
Again, we are looking for a highly motivated and enthusiasm field assistant to join our team for minimum 6 months starting in July. Please find more info here.
Few months ago we informed you that our mating attempt was successful, as Julius and Nina copulated twice. Initially, our female did not show any increase in weight, which resulted in a little disappointment. Situation has changed dramatically in March, when we noticed that she had gained few grams, which is already above her average oscillations. Excitement has arisen and during next weighing it was more and more grams. Additionally, our field manager, Filip, has noticed changes in the shape of her belly as well as palpation indicated that she can bear an offspring! This would be a n indisputable accomplishment of efforts of Tarsius Project team. Nina stays under constant observation. Additionally, to minimize risk of failure experienced by previous attempts of breeding the Philippine tarsier, we furnished her enclosure with soft bedding and removed all of the sharp objects.
Based on the available literature on tarsiers, we expect “our first child” in the second half of April. Would it be successful? Time will show, but for now please keep your fingers crossed for the best! Follow our news feed to get informed on this crucial stage of our Project!
Text: Filip Wojciechowski.