In many respects, the Philippine tarsier is different
from other animals. Considered as the world’s smallest primate, it measures
only about twelve centimeters in length. Its two big eyes cannot move
and do not have a tapetum – the upper protective tissue. Because of
this, the Philippine tarsier has learned to turn its head 180 degrees.
It has also two grooming claws on each foot and an almost bald tail
extending about nine inches.
Found in the islands of Samar, Leyte, Bohol and Mindanao, the Philippine tarsier got its name from its elongated tarsus bone. An ordinary tarsier has a gray or brown pelage and weighs between 117 and 134 grams.
The Philippine tarsier lives mainly on insects. It clings on small shafts of trees, some two meters from the ground. Its strong slender legs enable the Philippine tarsier to leap to the ground in haste and catch its prey. It is able to move between trees by leaping as far as three meters. It also has keen senses of hearing and sight.
In the 1960’s, the Philippine tarsiers freely roamed in dense patches of bushes, tall grasses, bamboos and small trees in tropical forest. They were said to be a common sight on the highway that cuts through the forested hill of Corella town in Bohol. But poachers and hunters caught thousands of tarsiers for pets. The tarsiers are reportedly popular pets in Mexico.
The Philippine tarsier, however, is known to be a solitary animal, which values its freedom and privacy. It rarely lives long in captivity. It has been reported that some tarsiers were so traumatized by captivity that they committed suicide by beating their heads against the cages.
Aside from hunters, the dwindling of Philippine forests poses a grave threat to the survival of the Philippine tarsier. Today, there are only about 1,000 tarsiers inhabiting the wilds of Corella town in Bohol province where the biggest concentration of these rare animals was once reported.
Ensuring the continued existence of the Philippine tarsiers is the Philippine Tarsier Foundation Inc., which has launched several projects in Bohol. However, the organization which is based in Tagbilaran City, needs additional funds to pursue the projects and give the next generation of Filipinos a chance to see this exotic animal, which by the way, is found only in the Philippines.
The Philippine Tarsier Foundation Inc.
Km. 14 Canapnapan, Corella, Bohol 6300 Philippines
Telephone: (0912) 516-3375