Dear friends of the rainforests,
Our partners in the ALDAW indigenous network in the Philippines have called on us for our help. The Philippine government plans to promote oil palm plantations on a vast scale on the tropical islands of Mindanao and Palawan, on rainforest land and the ancestral homes of small farmers and indigenous peoples. The residents own the land, and grow fruits, vegetables, rice and coconut palms there. They also use the forests as a source of food and materials for house construction and crafts.
With their sustainable way of life, the indigenous peoples have helped preserve their natural treasures, including many animal and plant species in danger of extinction. Because of this abundance, Palawan has been listed as a UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve since 1990. The government’s palm oil plans are an existential threat to the future of the indigenous residents and their environment.
Please support ALDAW in petitioning the government of the Philippines:
Spending night in the forest – for tarsier researchers an everyday activity, for most of locals a night mare, for tourist on the other hand it might be a challenge and a new experience.
The idea of organizing a night safari tours where tourists can spot tarsiers and other unique wildlife was carried out by Cristy Burlace, founder of Simply Butterflies Conservation Centre in Bilar, and Milada Řeháková, Tarsius project leader, already in 2010. Unfortunately there is not much tradition in organizing jungle safaris in the Philippines therefore it was hard to make tourist to come over. The situation changed in 2012. The Tarsius project got a substantial support from Czech Ministry of foreign affairs which helped us to focus more on development of ecotourism in neighbouring Rajah Sikatuna National Park.
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A Philippine tarsier (Tarsius syrichta) chews a katydid under dim mesopic light conditions. A paper by Amanda D. Melin et al., in this issue of Proceedings B (http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2013.0189), raises the possibility that such conditions favoured the evolution of enlarged eyes and high-acuity trichromatic vision in the last common ancestor of crown tarsiers, a concept that challenges prevailing views on the adaptive origins of anthropoid primates.
Cover image by Petr Slavik taken during fieldwork on the Tarsius Project.
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.
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Photo: Zdeněk Lokaj, National Geographic
The newest edition of Czech National Geographic contains a reportage of Zdeněk Lokaj about his travel to Borneo and Bohol, tarsier and the Tarsius project. An interview about tarsiers and also rediscovery of the Dinagat Island cloud rat can be found in the latest edition of Czech Cosmopolitan.
Photo by Petr Slavík
Acoustic communication, that is how the tarsiers talk to each other, was one of the main goals of our research of the Philippine tarsiers living on Bohol Island. Tarsiers as nocturnal animals use especially olfactory and acoustic communication. Thanks to the huge eyes their vision is also very good. The Philippine tarsiers are quite solitary, in opposite to some of related Indonesian species. They spend most of the time alone, during hunting at night as well as daily resting. Therefore, we were interested how rich is their acoustic repertoire. Several months long research during two years, hours and hours spent in the forest and thousands of audio records led us to desired results that have just been published in scientific journal International Journal of Zoology.
The easiest way how to find a tarsier is after sunset. You sit in the forest and wait to hear a whistle-like “loud call”. The loud call is typical for all tarsier species as well as other nocturnal primates and serves in long-distance communication, advertising of the territory or communication with a partner. We have discovered that Philippine tarsiers use three types of these long-distance calls. Moreover, individual differences can be found in these calls. Based on the sound you can recognize which individual is calling. It is for the first time in tarsiers that such individual differences in calls have been revealed. Some other calls are very soft and audible only from immediate proximity. For example a kind of chirping sound that is very similar to ubiquitous sounds of insects and even our experienced hunter Julius had problems with distinguishing it. A big surprise was a sound resembling rather a bird song than a tarsier call. Tarsier mother and baby use other two types of calls that have not been recorded in adult animals.
Our findings have also conservation significance. Based on the calls we can monitor the animals in the wild, record their distribution and distinguish individual. Comparison with other tarsier species can help us to resolve their relationships. The original article can be downloaded here.
Copyright text and audio: Milada Řeháková, the Tarsius Project
Photo by Petr Slavík
Unique tarsier pictures showing tarsier feeding, movement or mother care where published in Daily Mail. Pictures were made by Petr Slavík during his participation in the Tarsius project on Bohol Island, Philippines.
“Who you looking at? Tiny primate uses his big eyes to spot up his dinner from his perch”… Read more
Photo by Petr Slavík
See the amazing pictures of tarsiers made by Czech wildlife photographer Petr Slavík and read about tarsiers in The Sun magazine.
“AN UNFORTUNATE grasshopper makes an easy meal for one of the planet’s cutest critters.” read more…
Magazine Koktejl celebrated its 20th birthday on 26th May in Kostelec nad Černými Lesy. Among others wildlife photographer Petr Slavík presented stories about photograohing of wild animals. He joined the Tarsius project in 2009 and made wonderful pictures of philippines tarsiers. We would like to thank Petr Slavik and Koktejl magazin for cooperation and also all of you who supported our project by buying tarsier products.
tarsier products store
Please read the story about the Tarsius project, our work and successes recently published on the ARKive website.
“Here at ARKive, we love a conservation success story, and we were delighted when ARKive media donor Dr. Milada Řeháková-Petrů got in touch to share with us the latest news on the Tarsius Project – a research and conservation organisation centred around the Philippine tarsier. Read more…