A Dinagat Island cloud rat, belonging to the biggest and most beautiful rodents of the world, endemic to only one tiny island of the world – Dinagat Island, Philippines, was rediscovered. This species was captured only once in the history, 37 years ago. 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.
Cloud rats are the biggest (body size 30-70 cm) and most spectacular murids of the world, endemic only to a few Philippine Islands. They are nocturnal arboreal animals. The Dinagat bushy-tailed cloud rat (Crateromys australis) is the least known among them. So far, it was known only from one specimen captured in 1975. Since then number of scientific expeditions have searched for this elusive species, but with no success. It changed in early 2012 when a programmer Václav Řehák accompanying his wife, zoologist Milada Řeháková on a survey of Dinagat Island tarsiers spotted a huge hairy grey-brown rat with hairy and conspicuously black-white tail searching in the canopy. William Oliver of the Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Foundation, said that Řeháková had called him from the island “full of excitement and frustration” because while her husband had seen it, she had not. Finally, they both saw the cloud rat a week later. The exciting rediscovery was scientifically confirmed and this species was video documented for the first time ever.
Tarsier baby with its mother - photo Milada Řeháková
It is our pleasure to inform you that our article about two cases of predation of the Philippine tarsiers recorded during our fieldwork on Bohol Island in years 2009 and 2010 has been published in scientific journal Acta Ethologica.
The first “victim” was a one month old baby tarsier. This situation was even sadder, because our observation was the first observation of development of young Philippine tarsier in the wild. The other predated tarsier was the first female captured on our second study site in Bilar on Bohol Island. She was relatively small therefore we think she might be young. Maybe it was because of her inexperience that she was found in stomach of a monitor lizard after two weeks of observation.
New tarsier enclosure in Loboc - photo Milada Řeháková
It is almost one year since I have come back from my last fieldtrip to the night pixies, the Philippine tarsier. During that time we have been busy with data analyses, preparation of the next steps and also gathering funds for further continuation of the Tarsius project. The project has been dealing with tarsier research and conservation of the Philippine tarsier since four years. Christmas time is coming and I am getting my short, T-shirts and the technical equipment that is the main and heaviest part of my luggage ready for the next trip to the tropical island. Read more »
In December the Czech deputy minister of foreign affairs Tomáš Dub visited the Philippines. During this time he visited also Bohol Island, the field site of the Tarsius project led by a Czech zoologist focused on conservation of the Philippine tarsier. He has also a meeting with the undersecretary of policy and planning Demetrio L. Ignacio.
The Tarsus Project led by RNDr. Milada Řeháková, Ph.D. from Decin Zoo is involved in conservation of the Philippine tarsier in the Philippines intensively since 2009. The project has already achieved lot of success. The most important think is the role in closing of facilities displaying the Tarsiers as a tourist attraction in unsuitable conditions where they died soon and transfer of all the animals into a bigger naturally planted enclosure in Loboc. 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.
25. 11. 2011 – The Philippine tarsier, a tiny animal that became a symbol of the Philippines and one of the main tourist attractions. But this fame has a drawback. Increasing poaching and demand for tarsiers on illegal pet trade, display in unsuitable conditions as a tourist attraction, this all results in decreasing number of wild population. Thanks to an effort of the Czech zoologist Milada Řeháková-Petrů and the ambassador of the Czech Republic in the Philippines Josef Rychtar this year became breakthrough for the tarsiers´ future.
We are pleased to announce that the Tarsius project became a partner of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The Tarsius project met the high standard criteria set by the WAZA office and has received the WAZA brand. Being a WAZA-branded conservation project has increased the credibility and understanding of the importance of our work. A short project description has been published on WAZA website and an article about the project will be published in the WAZA News.
WAZA is the unifying organisation for the world zoo and aquarium community. Its more than 300 members include leading zoos, aquariums, associations, affiliate organisations and corporate partners from around the world. It promotes cooperation between zoological gardens and aquariums with regard to the conservation, management and breeding of animals in human care and encourages the highest standards of animal welfare and husbandry. It promotes environmental education, wildlife conservation and environmental research. Through branding (and promoting) of suitable conservation projects WAZA became more involved in in situ conservation.
We spent almost two years together with the tarsier in the Philippines and our project is definitely not over. The Philippine nature, tarsiers, their chances for future survival, our field activities in 2009 – 2010 and our future plans, these are the topics of the new documentary that you can find on our website. Among others the documentary includes unique video recordings of tarsiers from the wild.
Keeping of tarsiers for a tourist amusement is a sad issue. Since this documentary was created a few things have changes. As we informed you recently, the conditions of these animals are slowly improving thanks to our effort and cooperation with local authorities.
We added a Reportage section for your better orientation on our website. Here you can find reportages from the project and also video documents. Short reportages from the field can be found in the News section.
Recently we informed you that the Philippine tarsiers kept as a tourist attraction hope for a better future.
After the meeting focused on the captive tarsiers issue in December 2010, the first results occurred. At the beginning of this year DENR (Department for Environment and Natural Resources) stopped issuing of the permits for new tarsier holders. This ban has been valid since 2008 but was not implemented and new facilities have been established. It has stopped now.
35 captive tarsiers kept in inappropriate conditions were released by local politicians and DENR personnel on 22nd July 2011 into the wild in Loboc area. We do not know if there were detailed preparations prior the release and if the animals will be monitored. But this act will for sure help to reduce abusing of tarsiers and the illegal trade and poaching.
The tourist spot operators and the stuff-toy makers protest against this act. Let’s hope that the interest in tarsiers and their future will be more important then the commercial interests.