Expert research finds Bohol tarsiers to be not vanishing

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Expert research finds Bohol tarsiers to be not vanishing

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An expert research has dispelled belief that tarsiers, an iconic Bohol non-human specie inhabitant, are dwindling, according to Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) chief Nestor Canda, because their number is growing and getting distinct.

Quoting a foreign scientific study that also involved the Leyte-based Visayas State College of Agriculture (VISCA), Canda affirmed that the general observation that the tarsier stock in its natural habitat, particularly the Corella sanctuary, has reduced is not correct.

The population of tarsiers in Bohol has been estimated to be even higher than any previous projections, the province’s top environment official stressed.

Canda yesterday asserted all these in a mobile phone conversation with Gov. Edgar Chatto on the heels of an international naturalist conference-fed report that the Philippine tarsier (tarsius syrichta)is, “for the first time, on most endangered list with half of the world’s primates.”

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The Bohol tarsier is known to be the oldest smallest primate alive on the planet and has been globally regarded as an icon of eco-tourism.

The “living tarsiers are small mysterious last survivors of an ancient primate group,” according to Allan Walker, professor of anthropology and biology at the Pennsylvania State University.

According to a report datelined Singapore, where scientists met on Tuesday, “species long known to be at risk have been joined on the most endangered list for the first time by the Philippine tarsier and the Lavasoa Mountains dwarf lemur from Madagascar.”

The Philippines has been designated as both a global conservation hotspot and a “megadiverse” nation—a distinction shared only with Madagascar.

The report listed the world’s 25 most endangered primates and their estimated numbers remaining in the wild, but there was no figure—only an “unknown“ remark—entered for tarsier and even several others like the dwarf lemur,  Colombian brown spider monkey and Kashmir gray langur.

Canda said the expert research on which he based his revelations to the governor also found out that the tarsier natural spatial domain is not just “one hectare-one pair territory.”

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The foreign scientific investigation also involving VISCA was completed just this year, Canda said.

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The investigation trajectory for Corella and Sikatuna resulted in a finding that there are several pairs of male and femnale tarsiers per hectare, he said, although there are considered factors like vegetation cover and availability of food.

The said study was a scientific one and it did prove a different conclusion—that the population of Bohol tarsiers is growing, the PENRO head asserted further.

Contrary to the original belief that tarsiers could only be found in the forests of Corella, Sikatuna and neighboring town of Loboc, the tiny creature many would love to call the “world’s smallest monkey” has been also spotted in the towns of Jagna, Guindulman, Candijay, Anda, Batuan, Carmen, Danao, Getafe, San Isidro, Antequera, Loon, Maribojoc and Balilihan.

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POSITIVE INDICATION

Chatto appreciated the statement released in the scientists’ meeting in Singapore as a positive indication of the heightened global concern for tarsier conservation, which has exactly been sustained here.

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Tarsier conservation explains why the Boholanos themselves have long declared their famous “natural relative” as endangered, the governor said.

Canda recalled to Chatto himself in their mobile talk that it was the latter’s law while was congressman that has annually nationally funded and sustained now the conservation program thru the DENR in partnership with the concerned LGUs and private sector.

A yearly P3 million is allocated in the national budget purely for the purpose although it had been P5 million annually in the initial years of the implementation of the Chatto law because infrastructure projects related to the conservation were then included.

Canda said the government, in tie-up with the conservation foundation, has been watchful against activities that could endanger the habitat and very existence of tarsier, including illegal capture and selling of the wildlife.

Just last June, the DENR  Regional Office investigated and confirmed from a buyer himself who had bought two tarsiers— one from Anda, the other from Samar—but both had long died in captivity.

Canda said the two tarsiers were illegally captured, transported and sold long ago but known and confirmed just this year.

The Samar tarsier, Canda said, is relatively big and has long body while “ours in Bohol is so cute.”

The DENR and Bohol government have kept urging all to help conserve tarsier, which is also a flagship specie for an expanding eco-tourism industry.

Among Philippine animals that “breathe” life to tourism,  the Bohol tarsier is a hot “selfie” or “groupie” item.

BOHOL TARSIER

IS DISTINCT

The population of Bohol tarsiers is “potentially distinct” based on the structure analyses of microsatellites, according to the research “Conservation Genetics of the Philippine Tarsier: Cryptic Genetic Variation Restructures Conservation Priorities for an Island Archipelago Primate.”

It could not immediately ascertained, though, if this research was the one and the same referred to by Canda.

The research was done by foreign experts and also involved the VISCA, at which museum in Baybay, Leyte are now deposited important specimens and findings from “ranges of all described (tarsier) sub-species on the islands of Mindanao, Samar, Leyte, Bohol and Dinagat.”

Although moderately forested, Dinagat and northeast Mindanao are impoverished economically, lack low-elevation protected areas and have become the focus of particularly intensive mining operations—all of which threaten the remaining suitable habitat of this newly-documented evolutionary lineage, said the study posted on-line.

The results from analyses do not differentiate the populations on Bohol island from those on Samar-Leyte (currently recognized as separate subspecies), but the structure analyses of microsatellites identified Bohol “potentially as distinct.”(Ven rebo Arigo)

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