Research and conservation of the Philippine tarsier
Current goals of the Tarsius project
In this project we focus on conservation of endangered primate species the Philippine tarsier (Tarsius syrichta) in-situ, i. e. in area of its origin. The Philippines belongs to biodiversity hotspots with high degree of threat, where conservation efforts should be concentrated. Habitat loss and illegal pet trade are the main reasons of tarsier population decrease. Therefore we aim to establish a Philippine tarsier conservation centre in Bilar, Philippines in cooperation with Wings of Serenity and Simply Butterflies Conservation Centre.
BREEDING CENTRE FOR TARSIERS
We plan to establish a breeding centre as a first centre focusing on conservation and research tarsier in the scientific way, which will serve as a basis for establishing a viable captive population of the Philippine tarsier. It will be for the first time, when the professional centre will be established in the Philippines, eliminating the possibly most important factors that might cause the failure in the zoos in the past – stress during the transport, climate and food.
Conservation education is one of the most important conservation tools and together with Simply Butterflies Conservation Centre in Bilar we will focus on developing and extending of the educational plans and programmes for a broad audience. As a part of the project we will train more conservationist, as an example, one of the team member is a previous hunter who now works for tarsier conservation since 2010. We will continue with our educational activities in Czech Republic as well.
As a part of the Tarsius project we would like to promote ecotourism in Rajah Sikatuna and to develop organized trips to the national park that will raise awareness about necessity of nature conservation and at the same time provide benefits and alternative or additional livelihood for local residents. This will be achieved by organizing night safaris in neighbouring Rajah Sikatuna Protected Landscape. Visitors have possibility to observe various wildlife including monkeys, flying lemurs, tarsiers, owls, various insects and plants. They are guided by a trained English speaking local guide and a local spotter who is a previous hunter employed by the Tarsius project since 2010. It brings unique experience of being in the night forests which influences all human senses. It helps to educate local people and change their attitude to nature conservation.
Previous activities of the Tarsius project
The Tarsius project team is involved in tarsier conservation since 2009. The project is being conducted on Bohol Island, Philippines. Goal of this project is integration of conservation activities, education and research, which will help to gain lacking information about this interesting and still little studied species. Since 2010 we are involved also in captive tarsier issue.
The Philippine tarsier is one of the least known nocturnal primates. Detailed information about its biology is still lacking. In 2009-2010 we conducted a radio-telemetric study focused on behaviour, home-range use, social system and communication of the Philippine tarsier. During the two years we collected valuable data on two localities. The data are now being analysed and will not only increase our knowledge about this unique species but will also serve as a basis for future conservation activities. The progress of the research was presented on several international conferences; results are being prepared for publication in scientific journals, with two papers already accepted.
In our project we focus on raising awareness and organizing conservation educational activities in cooperation with our partners. We focus on training of local workers and young conservationists that will be involved in tarsier conservation. We organize presentations for local schools; together with the Philippine Science High School we lead 2 weeks internship programme in two following years. We produce informative posters in local and English language for visitors in tarsier habitat areas and promotional leaflets in local and English language for local and foreigner visitors. We organize presentation for broad audience in Czech Republic and write reportages for magazines and newspapers. The documentary film about the Tarsius project was made in Czech and English version in 2011.
In 2010 we became involved in monitoring of the situation of captive tarsiers abused as a tourist attraction of the main tourist route on Bohol. Based on our survey presented to the minister of environment and other authorities a special meeting focusing on captive tarsier on Bohol was held in December 2010. We suggested also guidelines for improvement of the tarsier keeping facilities that serve as an important source of information for locals. As a consequence, all the tarsiers from those facilities were transferred into a bigger and naturally planted enclosure in July 2011.
News about the project can be found on our web site.