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Seeing these furry little creatures is part of my bucket list. It was a dream come true to be able to get near them and witness how they jump from tree to tree. And there’s a bonus, I saw their scary side with the sharp teeth as if ready to bite!
Bohol Province is known for the tarsiers, the world’s smallest primate. A primate is a mammal of an order that includes monkeys, apes and humans. Local and international tourists visit Bohol usually for two things: to get a close encounter with the tarsiers and to view the majestic Chocolate Hills. That’s why most of the Bohol souvenir items have images of tarsiers and the Chocolate Hills. (Read more about the Chocolate Hills, click here.)
The Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary (also known as The Philippine Tarsier and Wildlife Sanctuary) in Kilometer 14, Barangay Canapnapan, Corella Municipality in Bohol Province takes care of the tarsiers creating a natural environment for them to live and breed as normally as possible.
When I arrived at the sanctuary, they led me to the registration area. There’s a mini exhibit explaining to tourists what tarsiers are, how they behave and how we can take care of them.
The guide led me to the sanctuary. There was a gate that made sure the people going in and out of the sanctuary was monitored well.
Inside the walls, it was like a different world. It’s a forest. The guide said I had to be quiet so the sleeping tarsiers won’t be disturbed. They’re nocturnal animals, meaning they’re active at night and sleep during the day.
It’s like a treasure hunt, walking around, searching for the tarsiers. A group of international tourists I saw started walking faster. They’re guide spotted a tarsier. I followed and whoa!!! I saw the small tarsier leap from one tree to another. I was so fascinated how it jumped that distance, and, get this, it jumped backwards.
Then, the guide saw another one. This one didn’t jump. It had its huge eyes staring at me. I think it didn’t like the tourists around it because it flashed its sharp teeth. The guide warned us not to get too close and not to touch for several reasons. One reason, it bites. Suddenly, the cute furry stuffed toy-like creature wasn’t so cute anymore the way I pictured it in my head and how I’ve seen it in pictures. Seeing it flash its teeth again and again made it look like a very tiny monster. Hahahaha! The second reason, touching it might cause stress and stress can push the tarsier to kill itself by not breathing or by starving itself. I wouldn’t want that.
It’s toes were very long and had a tail like that of a rat. It still looked cuddly from afar when you don’t see the teeth.
I had my camera with me. Taking pictures only without the flash is allowed.
A bit of a warning: there are many insects in the sanctuary. While I was taking pictures, one bit me on the cheek that made it swollen. So protect yourselves. (note: after this trip, I went to the Chocolate Hills and that’s where I felt the pain and swelling on my cheek. Thank God there’s a clinic there for tourists and the nurse gave me medicine and applied ointment on my cheek.)
The tarsiers in the Philippines are loners. They don’t go in packs. I think tarsiers in other parts of the world go in groups.
The Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary is a project of the Philippine Tarsier Foundation, Inc. Its program manager, Joannie Cabillo, said that years ago, tarsiers were kept in cages inside houses. These were fed insects and “domesticated” so tourists would be able to touch and carry them. She pointed out that that was illegal and every tarsier domesticated can never go back into the wild. It would lose its ability to live on its own and to mate naturally. So the foundation monitors reports about households keeping tarsiers and files charges in court against those responsible.
Carlito Pizarras, the foundation’s field supervisor and known as the tarsier man said they also work with other groups they allow to conduct research about tarsiers in the sanctuary.
Here are some rules they enforce:
– Visitors must be accompanied by a guide at all times.
– Tarsiers are shy but if you are quiet and maintain your distance they will not run away.
– Take nothing but pictures. Take nothing living or dead out of the sanctuary, except recent garbage.
– Leave nothing but footprints. Littering and dumping of wastes are banned.
– Kill nothing but time. Killing, harassing or harming of any wildlife are strictly prohibited.
– Do not feed any wildlife in the sanctuary. This can interrupt the animals’ feeding and mating habits, enough to render imbalance in their normal cycle.
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The Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary
Kilometer 14, Barangay Canapnapan, Corella Municipality, Bohol Province
Cellphone numbers: 0927-541-2290 / 0919-845-8720/ 0999-576-0931
The whole Bohol experience was part of the shoot I did for the travel show I host “I Love Pinas” aired in the Philippines and abroad. The staff and I took the photos. Know the airing schedule of the show, click here. Please like “I Love Pinas” on Facebook, click here. Please like my food and travel Facebook page, click here.
Where to go and what to do in Bohol? Click here.