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. It has by no means been an easy task, however, as there was and continues to be a lot of work that needs to be done. Additionally, computer failure due to the high humidity, being caught by massive rainfall while biking or misunderstandings have been common minor headaches so far. However, the overwhelming experience of being part of something bigger than yourself and at the same time being more present at the immediate moment has and continues to be so rewarding for me. Both professionally and spiritually.
The Philippine people that I have met so far have all been warm-hearted and extremely hospitable. Life here is enveloped by smiles and laughter and I haven’t experienced the stress that I find to be very common in Western way of life. As of three weeks, I am not alone as a field assistant. Filip, a fellow biologist from Poland, has joined me and we together share the task of making sure that everything is set for a pair of tarsier to move into the enclosure so the breeding- and behavioral research- part of the project can be started. These preparations have so far included to sample the surrounding forest areas for a suitable tarsier pair, preparing the enclosure and to make sure that we have enough food for the tarsiers as we breed a variety of insects on the project site. Hopefully, this can be accomplished in the coming months.
The Philippine tarsier is truly a remarkable animal and I really hope that conservation efforts, like this one, can counterbalance the population decline caused by habitat destruction and illegal pet-trade and can enable the future existence of this species.”