Today, Dr. Lubomír Peške is heading to the Philippines to continue with activities of the Tarsius project on the Bohol Island. The Tarsius project focuses on conservation of the endangered Philippine tarsier and works in long term cooperation with the Embassy of Czech Republic in Manila. This year the project activities were also supported by Ministry of foreign affairs of Czech Republic as a part of development cooperation.
The Philippine tarsier is a small nocturnal prosimian. Due to its cute appearance of little pixy it is often sold on illegal pet market. Together with destruction of forests, their natural habitat, it leads to a serious population decline. The Tarsius project, led by a Czech zoologist RNDr. Milada Řeháková, Ph.D., has been focused on the conservation of this unique animal since 2009. Thanks to its intensive work the project team has achieved several successes. Beside collection of valuable data about tarsier biology that were collected during two years study, the team accomplished closing of several facilities along the main tourist road showing tarsiers in unsuitable conditions were they died very soon and were replenished by new tarsiers captured from the wild. This happened soon after Dr. Milada Řeháková together with the Ambassador of the Czech Republic Josef Rychtar submitted reports to the Secretary of the Environment Ramon Paje and Undersecretary Demetrio Ignacio.
„Most of the illegally caught tarsiers were sold to these facilities; therefore we believe that this step will lead to significant decrease of tarsiers caught from the wild. But the conservation education of a local community and visitors that come to Bohol Island to see the tarsiers is equally important. Otherwise the locals will find another way how to renew their business”, says Dr. Milada Řeháková.
Therefore the Tarsius project team prepared follow-up steps that include development of the visitors’ centre of the partner organization Simply Butterflies Conservation Centre and prepared educational materials. The project also focuses on development of ecotourism in areas where tarsiers occur by organizing night safari tours where tourists can spot tarsiers and other unique wildlife. The efforts of the Tarsius project were supported by the Embassy of Czech Republic and this year funded by Ministry of foreign affairs as a part of development cooperation.
The Philippines and Bohol Island are visited by a growing number of tourists every year. Experiencing the night jungle can be a welcome enrichment of holiday and also a way to help the local nature to deal with growing pressure of human population.