When you hear the word Bohol, the first thing that comes into mind are the Chocolate Hills. Did that last year.
The second thing are tarsiers.
Tarsiers are found only in Southeast Asia.
The Philippine Tarsier is, of course, found only in the Philippines, and most famously in Bohol.
It has often been called the world’s smallest primate and the world’s smallest monkey, but it is neither. However, it does carry the distinction of being the mammal with the largest eyes.
Due to the rising human population and the rampant deforestation, the population of the species is dwindling. In fact, it’s conservation status is defined as threatened.
The tarsier (the animal on the left) is nocturnal, which means it sleeps during the day and wakes up at night to hunt for food. It eats insects, mostly crickets and grasshoppers.
It was late afternoon when we got to see the tarsiers. Manong Driver dropped us off a place few tourists passed by, so we were able to get up close shots of the tarsiers.
As much as I preferred them to sleep while we looked on quietly, our steps inevitably woke them up, and for that I felt horrible.
The tarsier keeper, upon seeing them awake, decided to give them some food. He held up a stick with a pierced cricket up to a tarsier, and after a bit of prodding, the tarsier decided to take cricket.
Later on, the tarsier keeper asked us if we wanted to hold the tarsier. I was very uncomfortable (you can probably see that in my face) because tarsiers don’t like to be touched by humans (you can see that in the pictures too).
At the same time I really wanted to hold the tarsier… I know!!!! I am a horrible person!!!!
I didn’t want to be KJ (killjoy) too… there were other tourists looking on, and really it was only for a little while, then we let the little critter go back up the tree.
But, oh, I felt so sorry for the tarsiers… They don’t live long in captivity. Most of them die by their own hands, like drowning themselves or beating their heads against their cages. These tarsiers aren’t in cages (the practice is illegal, but there are still very bad people who do that), they’re free to roam around the trees, but still, the entire area is very small… they’re still captive…
I was relieved when we finally returned them to their branches. I hope they weren’t too stressed by our visit. I hope someday, their population will return to a stable size. They’re very good for the community. They don’t harm people, and at the same time, they prey on insects, which is a good thing because insects eat crops, and Filipinos are very dependent on rice.
Before we left, we had to take these silly pics of ourselves as tarsiers. :-) LOL.
I was very happy to finally see the tarsiers. I’d always wanted to see them ever since Gim went to Bohol many years ago and told me all about them.
I hope to see them again someday, perhaps in a more natural time and habitat.