To research and conserve Philippine tarsiers in the Philippines
Despite an increasing interest in tarsiers over the last decades, the Philippine tarsier (Tarsius syrichta) still belongs to the least known nocturnal primates. Tarsiers and the Philippines' remaining biodiversity and ecosystems are under tremendous threats from an increasing human population. Logging and mining have destroyed most of the forests. In addition to the degradation of their habitat, tarsiers are threatened directly by humans. Tarsiers are hunted for the illegal wildlife pet trade or used as tourist attractions. The population size of the Philippine tarsier is decreasing. Habitat loss and the illegal pet trade are the main threats. Historically, tarsiers have not survived well in captivity. Currently, there is no captive population that might serve as a backup.
The goal of the Tarsius Project is integration of conservation activities, education and research, which will help to gain lacking information about this interesting and still little studied species and help its ex situ conservation.
1. Research of tarsier behaviour: Very little is known about this species. We studied the biology of tarsiers using radio-telemetry in 2009–2010. Data on social behaviour, communication, reproduction and home ranges are currently being analysed and will not only extent information about this small nocturnal primate but also have impact on its conservation.
2. Conservation education and awareness raising: In our project, we focus on raising awareness and educational activities in cooperation with our local partners. Local and foreign visitors are the target group; we focus especially on school children, which has the greatest impact on the future survival of tarsiers and other Philippine species. We also inform the broad audience through our project website, presentations, leaflets, etc.
For next year we aim to develop a conservation education plan for the broad audience, which means: raise awareness about the tarsier and other wildlife conservation among visitors using educational panels, posters, photo exhibition or video documents; train guides in providing information about tarsiers to the visitors of the centre and train more conservationists among the locals; and promote ecotourism in the area by organising guided night safaris, at the same time creating new livelihood possibilities for local residents.
3. Establishing a viable backup population: We aim to establish a Philippine tarsier conservation centre in Bilar on the Philippines, with a captive breeding programme with specific goals: to establish a breeding centre for tarsiers as the first scientific centre focusing on the conservation and research of tarsiers, which will serve as a basis for establishing a viable captive population of the Philippine tarsier; to collect data on the behaviour of tarsiers in captivity; and to develop detailed husbandry guidelines for the Philippine tarsier that can be used later on by other facilities.
WAZA Conservation Project 11018 is implemented by Dr Milada Řeháková (Decin Zoo), in cooperation with Simply Butterflies Conservation Centre and other supporters.
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