Friday, October 3, 2008

Philippine Tarsier Facing Extinction

The world famous tarsier, which has become a signature of the Philippines' eco-tourism promotion , is threatened extinction as more and more of them are seen in captivity.

The plight of the tarsiers turned into an urgent concern for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Provincial Tourism Council (PTC) agreeing that there is a need to enforce stringent regulations for the hunting of the small primates and putting them on cages for viewing of tourists.

In an interview with the Chronicle, provincial environment and natural resources officer Nestor Canda said they have noted an increase in the number of tarsiers being captured which could cause the fast dwindling population of the world's smallest primate.

Per estimates, there are only about 700 tarsiers in Bohol's forests found in the towns of Corella, Loboc, Sevilla and Bilar.

The public are also concerned on the commercialization of the tarsier especially those who make money out of it at the Loboc River.

Some collectors have also a taken aim at the shy creatures that are allegedly being sold for P600 in Manila .

According to Canda, they will be recording the number of tarsiers in captivity and monitor deaths and may recommend for cancellation of registered operators who do not comply with the safety of the tarsiers as required in their registration papers.

The DENR also has to determine if the tarsiers are bred in captivity or captured from the wild.

PTC chair Peter Dejaresco disclosed over Inyong Alagad yesterday that there is a need to monitor the plight of the tarsiers which is classified as an endangered specie by the DENR.

Without protection programs, the tarsier population will be critically low that it could become extinct in a few years, Dejaresco added.

Very few tarsiers, which are nocturnal creatures, survive in captivity since they are subjected to stress in the presence of humans.

Loboc Mayor Leon Calipusan also assured that in the coming years, they will be requiring operators to replicate a forest habitat for the tarsiers that are being captured for tourist-viewing. 

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