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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Does Tourism Speed up The Philippine Tarsiers' Extinction?

When one mentions Bohol, the first and second thing that comes to mind are Chocolate Hills and Tarsiers, the latter is considered an endangered species. In Bohol, a continually dwindling number of Philippine Tarsiers can be found. It is also found in a few places like Leyte, Samar and some parts of Mindanao.


It is by nature a small creature, measuring to about three inches to six inches in height and considered to belong in the primate group. On seeing the Philippine Tarsier, one cannot deny that its distinct feature are its wide eyes and the way it stares back at you.

According to Wikipedia:

"the Philippine Tarsier's eyes are fixed in its skull; they cannot turn in their sockets. Instead, a special adaptation in the neck allows its round head to be rotated 180 degrees."

With Bohol, attracting more tourists than ever before, the unlawful display of captured tarsiers have become somewhat widespread and with the kind of behavior these creatures typically led, those Tarsiers being held in semi captivity to be shown to tourists have been forced to live a life completely opposite to what they are meant to live.



For example, Tarsiers are known to be asleep during the day and are only awake during the night to hunt for food. How could they be sleeping when tourists are taking photographs of them during daytime.


Although this way of introducing Tarsiers to tourists and non-tourists alike might generate consciousness to how beautiful these creatures are and might force those who have no prior knowledge about the Tarsiers to do something to help in the preservation of their own specie.

Still, Government regulations are needed to be in place - and a strict one should be carried out to make sure, such proliferation of unlawful Tarsier trade be banned and those responsible in profiting in unjust Tarsier trade or exhibits be quickly put to justice.

I am feeling a bit of guilt right now, it is because I am one of those who took photographs of them beautiful creatures, to satisfy my "tourist" appetite of seeing something new at their expense. Now that I have read the threat to their existence may be the infrastructure development in the region. Soon, the forest that they live in are going to be transformed to rice fields, highways and other housing areas. Soon with the onslaught of tourism more and more Philippine tarsier will be put in semi captivity to be displayed and paraded like they were artifacts in a museum.


Aside from having their lifespan cut from the 24 years they were supposed to live in the wilds, in captivity it becomes a mere 12 years and for what? For hanging on tiny branches for others to take photograph at.


I found one such organization dedicated to work for the preservation of this wonderful specie. The Philippine Tarsier Foundation is organized by some concern sectors in Bohol and runs a forest reservation that serves as sanctuary for some remaining Philippine Tarsiers.

For donations and other needed help, please visit their website at: http://www.tarsierfoundation.org/

The role that the Philippine Tarsier plays in the development of tourism in Bohol plays a role in its economy, somewhat it also generates awareness and spread information about their own species. Hopefully, for most of us who have seen them up close will be driven to do something in our own way to help the aim of some organization in preserving them and make sure that in the coming years, the wild that they have known to call as their home will be spared from being destroyed in the name of regional development.

And I must say, shame to those who have bought, sold, or have hurt a Philippine Tarsier or have profited from any means of capitalizing their endangered extinction.

And a bit of shame for me too...

Deep inside me, I feel guilty that for a moment there, I just looked at them as an object for my camera and something to show to people that I've come up close and personal with a Philippine Tarsier, not knowing that just by being there, they have cut their lifespan in half already. So some tourists like me will be amused by their cuteness.

3 comments:

Hello! I'm Hann said...

two thumbs up for making a blog about this.. alot of tourists are not aware about the tarsiers.. most of the tarsiers are even displayed in a Sari sari store type place... =( I really feel sorry for these endangered species... atleast ours in Leyte & Samar are happy and free in the wild :)

Cagayan de Oro house said...

That tarsier is soooo cuute!!! Goodness me it's like having its own photoshoot!http://www.cdokay.com/

AJ said...

I've seen the "rape" of these tarsiers recently. There was a huge sign that said NO FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY, and yet a swarm of tourists (Pinoys and Koreans) were clicking away with flash. Isang attendant lang ang nandun para sumaway sa mga tao, and they mostly ignored her. She wasn't authoritative enough. And the enclosure was undermanned. Nakadilat ang mga tarsiers in broad daylight - gulat sa flash malamang.

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